In connection with kindergarten and the start of school, we in Kiddy have spoken to committed teachers about what is important to think about in order to maintain good school-home communication. We have spoken to the people behind the Instagram accounts @inkluderingsiril – Siril Grevsnes Bratten, @norskmedmona – Mona Grorud Sørensen and @nyinorsken – Marianne Gaasø!
Today is the last contribution of the week, and none other than @nyinorsken - Marianne Gaasø who has written about the importance of good school-home communication.
"Imagine that you are starting a new job. You have a lot of experience from your previous job, but you know little about this job. You get information from your manager, but you don't understand what he says. You have questions, but you don't know how to formulate yourself so that you are understood with the words and terms that they use in the new company. You notice that you try to have as little contact as possible and that it is difficult to engage with colleagues and work.
When parents who are new to Norway send their children to school, there is a lot that is new for them. Mum and dad may have experiences from a school system similar to the Norwegian one, but many may have experiences that are unfamiliar in a Norwegian context. Parents would like to prepare their children for what will meet them at school and participate actively in their children's everyday life. Education is a large and important project in many families. Giving parents tools so they can participate actively in their children's everyday life and education is important.
By using tools that multilingual parents can quickly adopt, a good collaboration will start from day 1. The parents will get used to receiving information that they understand and they will experience that they can easily give useful information back to the school for the child. Having good cooperation with the home is so important that you cannot wait until parents have learned to use monolingual tools or enough Norwegian to be able to communicate on the school's premises."
Marianne Gaasø, Contact teacher for the welcome class and subject manager for newly arrived students.
Mona Grorud Sørensen works as a special Norwegian teacher at Børsa school, in Skaun municipality. Mona talks about her experiences both as an SNO teacher, and now as a contact teacher in a welcome class.
"Pretty much every day there are messages from the school and home to the parents in a class. It can be anything from "Remember outdoor school tomorrow" to longer information about things happening at school. I worked in adult education for many years before I started as a contact teacher for a welcome class in my municipality. A lot of time was wasted at the school explaining and translating for the adult participants what information they had received from the school. Learning Norwegian is great, but also time-consuming. I also experienced that many minority-language parents gave up following what came from the school from other communication platforms used, because they did not understand. The result was that their children often came to school unprepared, because the parents had not caught the messages that had been sent out.
Two years ago I went back to primary school. First as a SNO teacher and eventually we got our own welcome class. As a SNO teacher, I was in regular classes a lot and observed that the students were embarrassed when they came to school and had not understood/been told about anything that should have been prepared for that day. I talked a lot with the contact teachers about the fact that they had to remember that there were students in the class whose parents spoke very limited Norwegian and that they had to ensure that the messages also reached them. This was often forgotten in a busy teacher's everyday life.
Eventually I got my own group and I spent a lot of time with google translate in different languages. I also have parents who do not read in their mother tongue in my group. It was very challenging to get messages exchanged both one way and the other. Being able to communicate between school and home is very important for all parties, and above all for the child's well-being and social/professional development at school. I am very glad that I discovered Kiddy. This means that I can easily write a message in Norwegian and I know that the parents will receive the message in a language they understand, and if they cannot read, they will have the message read out to them. I also find that I mostly get important messages about, for example, absences, dental appointments and so on. It was rare that I received messages like this before. I feel that the parents get to communicate important information in a much better way (and much more often) now, which makes it safe and predictable for all of us who are around the student, and not least for the student himself."
Teacher of special Norwegian at a primary school in Skaun municipality.
"I think it's important to have an understanding of what the home stands for. What you can expect, and why it is like that. We adults must not look down on the home, but rather gain an understanding of how the home looks. Then at school you have to see the student for who he is, and exactly where he is. And on that level establish a relationship with the student. Be curious about the culture and familiarize yourself with the culture. Know the history of the culture and in the classroom draw in the cultural understanding!
Perhaps you could have a project about a country and let the students have about that country and cook and learn about where x comes from. I believe that this creates inclusion"