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Understanding Latinos families’ school experiences builds a foundation for partnership

Understanding Latinos families’ school experiences builds a foundation for partnership

July 09, 2019

It is easy to assume all families have similar experiences with U.S. schools, but the perceptions of culturally and linguistically diverse groups may vary.

Parents of Latino students have described feeling misunderstood and unsure of school expectations. Some Latino parents report experiencing multiple barriers to involvement in their children’s education, as well as doubts that schools listen to their needs.

One study found that Spanish-speaking Latino parents rated their relationships with their children’s teacher lower than English-speaking Latino parents. However, teachers did not perceive the same issues in these relationships.

Teachers and practitioners should not rely solely on their own perceptions, but instead, seek to understand the perspectives of Latino families in their schools.

How do these perceptions inform TAPP para Familias Latinas?

Before beginning TAPP para Familias Latinas, we conducted a focus group to find out more about Latino parents’ experiences with schools in Nebraska. We invited nine Latina mothers to share.

Their responses echoed the research. The mothers reported feeling isolated and disconnected from schools, as well as helpless in accessing services for their children. They wanted to build stronger relationships with school personnel.

We used these results to prepare TAPP consultants and project staff, as well as shape interactions with the Latino parents in our study. Look for future Juntos posts to learn more about the specific strategies we use in TAPP.

What does this mean for you?

Find out more about how culturally and linguistically diverse families perceive their experiences with your school. Do parents and students feel welcome and comfortable in the school? Does the environment meet their expectations?

Examine the relationships between school personnel and diverse parents. Are parents able to communicate with their child’s teacher in their preferred language, and is communication two-way (from school to home and home to school)? Do parents feel a sense of partnership with teachers and other staff members?

Make a special effort to invite feedback from Latino parents, especially those with limited proficiency in English. Understanding Latino parents’ perspectives is a key first step to building partnerships.