Robert Frost Family Academic Night focuses on parent support

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The Family Academic Night at Robert Frost Elementary on Thursday offered parents insight into what and how their kids are learning in the classroom — and how they can help them at home.

Parents learned about the open number line, a math concept that helps their kids with addition. They heard how reading lessons focus on decoding words. They listened to social-emotional learning strategies counselor Alisha Porter covers in her guidance lessons. They played the same math games their kids do in class that help them understand there are multiple ways to find an answer to a problem.

With the district's recent changes to the elementary math, language arts and reading curriculum, Robert Frost staff wanted to shift their approach to this year's family academic night.

"We felt that families were disconnected from what we were trying to do in school," said Liz Reichley, Robert Frost’s instructional coach who organized Thursday’s event. 

"We want to make sure we’re partners with them. But if they don’t have the information, then we can’t be partnered as well."

District curriculum specialists, Dr. Tonya Salisbury and Heather Griffith, led presentations, providing background into the new instructional materials, why they were chosen and how parents can support their kids.

Salisbury highlighted the Geodes books, which help readers in grades K-2 practice their phonics skills as well as the Wit and Wisdom curriculum for grades 3-5 that help students become stronger readers and writers and effective communicators.

Griffith gave an overview of Bridges curriculum, which focuses on problem solving and skill building.

"We’ve gotten questions about math for years because that was such a big shift," Reichley said. "We want to help them understand how to use these strategies that we build on year after year that allow kids to build a strong number sense as opposed to memorizing an algorithm."

Julie Brown was among the more than 30 parents who attended the event. She wanted to know how she could better support her son, fifth-grader Kenny Wedekind, and his teachers.

"I was impressed to learn how much research and science goes into how they teach, what they teach and the foundations they are putting in place to help him continue to grow and learn all the way through high school," she said.

"They were very clear on what we can do at home… and what we can augment at home to help the process and be part of the learning."