Why Are Schools Linking Families and Teachers Together?


Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers[LIFT] is a program developed to prevent the development of aggressive and anti-social behaviors in elementary school children. Rated effective, the preventive intervention addresses two risk factors that place children at risk for delinquency and anti-social behaviors:

1) aggressive and other at risk social behaviors with teachers and peers at school and

2) certain parenting practices, such as inconsistent discipline and minimal supervision.

The target population is children within the elementary school setting, particularly 1st and 5th graders. The program is designed for children and their families who live in high at-risk communities.

LIFT has three main components:

  1. Classroom-based child social skills training,
  2. Good Behavior Game[GBG] for the playground, and
  3. Parent management training.

It also focuses on systematic communication between parents and teachers. To facilitate communication, a “LIFT line” is implemented in each classroom. This line is a phone and answering machine in each classroom that parents are encouraged to use if they have questions for teachers or any concerns to share. Teachers also use this LIFT line to record the class activities, daily messages and updates to be accessed by the parents.

As a middle school teacher, I used my personal cell phone to effect the same basic outcome, and similar purposes-keeping parents ‘in the loop’ and maintain communication with the home. It worked wonderfully for classroom management, as did my website, which was accessed more often by students. Parents seemed to prefer the telephone communication above all other means of communicating and connecting them with their child’s education at school.

LIFT, conducts social skills training during the regular school day are sessions are broken into distinct segments. The training is delivered over a 10 week period in 20 one hour sessions. Each session includes:

  • classroom instruction and discussions about specific social and problem-solving skills,
  • skills practice in small and large groups,
  • free play in the context of the GBG group cooperation game, and
  • review and presentation of daily rewards.

The GBG is conducted on the playground, with a similar curriculum for all elementary students; however delivery format, group exercises and content emphasis are modified depending on grade level.

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The playground GBG takes place during the free-play portion of the social skills training and is used to actively encourage positive peer relations on the playground. During the game, rewards are earned by individual children for demonstrating positive problem-solving and other pro-social behaviors with peers. The rewards accumulate over time so the entire group can earn a reward. To discourage negative behaviors, a point system is used.

fam-school

The parent training component is conducted in groups of 10-15 parents, and consists of 6 weekly 2 1/2 hour sessions. Sessions concentrate on positive reinforcement techniques, discipline, monitoring, problem-solving and parent involvement in the school. Communication is fostered throughout the school year.

An important assumption underlying the program is that social agents respond coercively to children who are at risk for conduct problems. The intervention components were developed to decrease oppositional/antisocial child behaviors and the coercive response to such behaviors, as well as to increase pro-social behaviors and their support.

Related program practices include:

School-Based Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Programs
Designed to foster the development of five interrelated sets of cognitive, affective, and behavioral competencies, in order to provide a foundation for better adjustment and academic performance in students, which can result in more positive social behaviors, fewer conduct problems, and less emotional distress. The practices are generally as effective in reducing students’ school-based conduct problems and emotional stress.

Starting preventive interventions and reinforcing positive social behaviors and cultivating emotional literacy with children from the early elementary years is a significant step towards reducing future maladaptive, problematic and at-risk behaviors as children develop. In alignment with academic performance improvements, parents and families are engaged and involved at the classroom level in collaboration with teachers who share similar interests: maximized achievement, parent partnerships within supportive and empowering school communities.

Start smart, start early and children deemed especially ‘at-risk’ can grow into adolescence and beyond with the natural resilience and SEL skills to meet developmental challenges as productive, well-adjusted life-long learners!

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