This fall, STC Chicago held its first Roundtable and first Study Tour to powerful results.

On Tuesday, September 27, the first STC Chicago Roundtable was hosted by the Holy Family School, an elementary school serving 200 students K-8. The effective practice in focus for the roundtable was Holy Family’s approach to fostering parent engagement.

During the roundtable, Holy Family shared a number of ideas and strategies that can be summed up with the following quote from Holy Family’s leadership: “If we can educate the parents, the children will learn better.”

Holy Family provided some great advice on building up parent engagement. The first step is to start small by finding ways to get parents in the building. One thing that can help this is to maintain an open door policy where parents are always welcome to stop by the school, visit the office, or observe classes. From here, Holy Family recommends that a school move to adding events that require parent attendance. For example, parent meetings (mini-workshops that educate parents on parenting and working with their children), parent-teacher conferences, and volunteering. In addition to these events, it is beneficial to host optional events that serve to build community and connections amongst the families of the school. And, last but not least, recognize and reward parents who go above and beyond.

Shortly after the first Roundtable, STC Chicago also held its first Study Tour at Namaste Charter School on Tuesday, October 18. The study tour was focused on Namaste’s nationally recognized approach to educating the whole child by emphasizing health and wellness through proper nutrition and daily exercise. Attendees were able to observe and examine “morning movement,” numerous classes and activities devoted to physical education like developing healthy habits and nutrition, and kids engaging in constructive play during recess. Attendees were even treated to a healthy school lunch.

In addition to the focus on health and wellness, attendees also got to see Namaste’s dual-language program in action and learn about Namaste’s Peaceful People program which fosters a common language for teachers, students, and parents to solve problems peacefully.

Both events supplied attendees with new ideas and practical guidance for integrating terrific new practices at their own school. Additionally, many interesting and beneficial topics not on the agenda were discussed and new relationships were formed amongst the STC Chicago schools.