So many teachers and administrators are feeling the frustration of trying to promote more involvement at school with their Hispanic parents. If you’re one of those teachers or administrators, chances are good that you have repeatedly asked yourself and your colleagues, “How can we engage our Latino parents and connect them to their children’s education?”

First of all, forget the notion that “parents don’t want to get involved.” Often times, it’s simply that the parents don’t know how. Some parents may only have the equivalent of a fifth or sixth grade education. They wonder what and how they can contribute to their child’s education when they feel inadequate because of their lack of schooling. Besides, (they may be thinking), “you’re the educator, why would you need my help?” How can you help them to understand that their opinions and ideas are important, and that what they have to say is invaluable.

Then, of course, there’s the issue of language. More than likely, you’ve encountered varying degrees of ability when it comes to your Latino parents’ English. They often feel that they don’t know enough English to effectively communicate with you during a school event, and the result is they’re not comfortable coming to school. But, you say, “we’ve offered ESL class and attendance always seems to start out strong, but then the parents seem to stop coming.” Remember that parents often are working long and unpredictable hours at their jobs. They may not be able to take the time needed from their job in order to participate in a school event. Maybe Mom would like to come, but there’s only one vehicle in the family, and Dad needs it for work. Or, even if there is an available vehicle, perhaps Mom doesn’t know how to drive or there is no childcare available to her while she’s away from home.

The solution is to offer the parents an affordable and effective means of acquiring English AT HOME where they can learn to read, write and speak English. Both Say Yes! To English and Step Into English offer just that.