Showing Up Matters for R.E.A.L. Step 2
Using R.E.A.L To Welcome Families Back to School
After two difficult school years, the return to school this year is bound to be fraught with emotions for many students and staff. Research and experience shows that attendance improves when a school community offers a warm and welcoming environment that engages students and families. As you plan for the return to school, plan activities that promote positive engagement, relationship building and a sense of community that leaves everyone feeling like school is a place they belong.
View this video created for the Atlanta Speech School where educators provided a warm and welcoming climate for students.
Districts and schools can use the concepts in R.E.A.L. (Routines, Engagement, Access to resources and Learning) to strengthen their back to school efforts as well as their attendance initiatives during the school year.
Get Back into routine. Daily attendance routines, created at home or in school, can reduce stress for students and families and create a sense of safety and security, especially after chaotic transitions.
Hold a welcoming event. Hold an open house for parents/care givers and students before school starts to encourage family involvement, early registration and begin to talk about on-time attendance. Short interactive exercises for parents, like Washing the Elephant, quickly convey why attendance is important.
Build community spirit during the first month of school. Use our Back-to-School calendar of activities for Elementary grades and for Secondary grades. The calendar can be used by advisory/home rooms or the entire school. You can choose to do one week or four!
Connect with families. Plan home visits, online meetings and phone calls to strengthen positive relationships with students and families who struggled with absences in the prior school year, and ensure they have the support they need to participate in learning.
Incorporate R.E.A.L. talking points into communications. Use the R.E.A. L. framework to help you explain the importance of showing up, especially given the challenges experienced during the pandemic, and to help you and your team to reflect upon what is needed to make showing up to school worthwhile.
This toolkit, created by the AFT and the National Center for Learning Disabilities, includes materials that will help you implement strategies to enhance children’s transition to kindergarten. We especially like, Getting to Know My Child: a guide for my child’s kindergarten teacher.