Parents who want to be directly involved in their child’s education can learn valuable techniques on how to maximize kids’ learning experiences through the Clark County Education Association’s Family-School-Community Partnership Training program.

The program, in its fifth year, aims to teach parents and educators how to involve families in the learning process at home as well as at school, said association spokesman Kevin Neilsen.

‘It’s a wonderful program. It encourages parents’ involvement at school,’ Neilsen said. ‘Parents want to help out at school but two things are holding them back: they don’t know what to do and they don’t want to be a gopher. This training brings parents, teachers and the community together to help the kids learn.’

Twelve elementary schools and two middle schools in the Clark County School District currently participate in the program.

Sue Bernheisel, principal of Crestwood Elementary School, said while the training encouraged more parents to get involved in school functions, it also sparked the kids’ enthusiasm toward learning.

‘It really helped us,’ Bernheisel said. ‘We have a large Hispanic population, and many felt uncomfortable coming to the school. The training allowed us to bring in parents and they began to feel more welcome at school. It helps our second-language kids, because their parents feel comfortable in the school. The training is a wonderful way to get families committed to a school.’

Some of the topics covered during the training include teaching parents and teachers how to give positive feedback to children; tips and strategies that make class run smoothly; and welcoming parents into the classroom. A safe schools program within the training covers playground safety, how to spot bullies, as well as what to look for when identifying bullies and their victims.

‘What we’re trying to do is get parents in the classroom to do enrichment work,’ Neilsen said. ‘We sit down and talk about how we can work together to help the kids.’

But the main benefit of the training, Neilsen said, is it sets a good example for the kids.

‘When a child sees parents working in a classroom, it shows the importance of education,’ Neilsen said. ‘Kids then feel there’s an important role parents play in education.’

More than 800 parents have gone through the program, Neilsen said. A bilingual program will soon be implemented to address the growing Hispanic population.

Starting in mid-September, the association also will offer mini-grants to teachers and parents who want to do enrichment activities that encourage parental participation in at-risk schools.

Those interested in the training should contact Neilsen at 733-3063.

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