What students wish their parents knew about school

Mother and Daughter Talking about School

It’s September and your middle school or high school student is back in classes. Another year means another great opportunity for them — and for you – to get better.

In my years as an educator, my students helped me compile a list of their wishes, those things they most wish their parents would say and do to support them in school. I used to share them with parents at back-to-school night and parent-teacher conferences, and they are things I’ve tried to keep in mind with my own teenager. While some of them aren’t practical (“I wish my parents wouldn’t make me do my homework” comes up a lot), here are five you might find interesting and helpful as you negotiate a new school year with your teens. Read More »


Talking about school with your child:  8 ways to foster positive communication

Talking with children about school

Many parents are familiar with this scenario – they ask their children how their day was at school, and the only response they get is “good.”  While it’s so important for parents to talk to their children about school, many parents struggle to establish positive communication.

As the Family Access and Engagement Coordinator at the Lawrence Full Service Community School in Holyoke, I spend a lot of time working with parents and their children. My goal is to engage all parents in their children’s education, which in turn helps students do better in school.

One of our most successful programs are Parent Cafés. During Parent Cafés, we teach participants how to communicate positively with their young children and share personal experiences about school. Read More »


Happy National Ampersand Day! No, really.

national ampersand day

September 8 is National Ampersand Day. The humble ampersand is an often overlooked fragment of the English language, even though its appearance actually derives from the Latin word “Et” meaning “and.” It’s clear if you think of the shape as a big, flowing capital “E” merged with a little “t.”

In fact, the name for this handy curlicue – which was originally called the “per se and,” meaning “and itself” – is a testimony to the importance it once held in English literacy. We think of it as informal today, but it was once a formal part of the alphabet. (Thomas Jefferson used it in the Declaration of Independence, after all.) Back in Noah Webster’s day, school children reciting the ABCs would finish with “W,X,Y,Z, and per se and.” Shortening and slurring through rote performance made “and per se and” into “ampersand,” a name that has stuck with us ever since. Read More »


Different kinds of literacy: Teaching financial literacy to teen moms

Florence Bank

Deciphering and then using financial information to make decisions often feels intimidating. Not only are the technical terms that banks and the government use on forms confusing, but making smart financial decisions also involves using numbers to calculate what the best option is. Financial literacy encompasses budgeting, understanding what different kinds of bank accounts are, and understanding what credit scores mean and how to get them. It is so important, but also so difficult, that the federal government set up the financial literacy website and tasked the Financial Literacy and Education Commission with developing a national strategy on financial education. Read More »


Different kinds of literacy: Teaching nutrition (and 10 healthy snack ideas)

Chef Bill

What’s more affordable – feeding your family McDonalds, or cooking a healthy meal? The teen mothers at the Athena Interactive Literacy Program, Reader to Reader’s annual family literacy training for teen moms, were shocked to discover that preparing a balanced meal actually costs less than eating fast food. Each day during this one-week program, Chef Bill Collins teaches participants how to cook healthy, inexpensive food through interactive cooking demonstrations. Read More »