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I want to be involved with my children’s school but don’t speak much English. Is there anything I can do?

May 30, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

A empty colorful classroom with green walls, yellow, blue, and red chairs.

Question: My twins are starting kindergarten in the fall at an English-language school. My English is not very good and I’m worried that I won’t be able to communicate with the teachers. Is there anything I can do?

Answer: You are already taking the first step by voicing your concern to us. It’s great that you aren’t letting a potential language barrier get in the way of being involved in your twins’ education.

When you register your children for school, ask the registration person whom you should contact at the school for communication services. Many schools have bilingual staff or funding available for hiring translators for parent-teacher conferences and other times when you need to speak with teachers or administrators. There are other things you can do to stay involved with your twins’ school life, too.

  • Volunteer to help with events at the school. You can help decorate classrooms or the cafeteria before an event, or chaperone a field trip.
  • Take an English language class. If your twins’ school offers English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, sign up and improve your English. You might be able to better communicate with their teachers.
  • Do what you can. If the school cannot provide a translator when you need to speak with your children’s teacher, draw a picture or use a sign to fill in the words you don’t know in English. The teacher will appreciate that you are involved and trying to communicate with him or her.

These tips will help you make the most of your situation, but be sure to ask the school if they have translation services available when you need to speak with your children’s teacher or administrators.

For more information on preparing for the first day of school and bilingual education, please see the Through Elementary and Middle School book in the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher 3-book set.

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