A successful literacy night for parents cannot just be thrown together a week before it happens.
The purpose of a Family Literacy Night for is to provide important information about children’s literacy development and share research-based strategies that can be easily be implemented by parents at home with ANY piece of text.
Planning a successful literacy night for parents that meets the purpose and provides families with strategies to use at home can be overwhelming. However, if you have a checklist and an eager group to take on different responsibilities, the planning can be easy! I'm here to show you a quick checklist for planning your Family Literacy Night.
Keep reading then grab your free Family Literacy Night Planning Tool here. Printable resources to keep your Family Literacy Night Planning organized.
Let's outline the steps to planning the PERFECT Family Literacy Night...
Organize a Planning Committee
Create a Family Literacy Night Planning Committee to gather ideas about strategies to share with parents and “shop” for a tool for every parent to take away from each strategy station or booth.
The shopping could mean that you buy certain items, such as bookmarks, books, pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. BUT…it could mean that you create strategy tools to print and prepare at school using the supplies already available.
Where, When and How
Plan the general information—date, time, where, theme and layout plan for the night. After setting a date and time for the literacy night, the organization begins.
You will want to have at least a month’s advance notice, so that advertising, purchasing and preparing supplies won’t become an added stressor to the teachers’ already packed schedules.
Start thinking about themes for the night. This could drive the décor and freebies handed out throughout the night.
Spread the Word
Advertise well ahead of time to build anticipation among parents, guardians, students and the school community. Create and send invitations with RSVPs. You will want to have a general idea of the supplies needed for your strategy stations/booths.
Make sure you have door prizes relevant to the school community and the literacy cause.
You want to gain interest and enthusiasm for your events so...do a social media blast, put it on the marquee sign, talk about it in robocalls home, send notices weekly, etc.
Make sure teachers are talking it up in the classrooms. If teachers genuinely build it up…students will make sure their parents come! If teachers are kept in the loop during the planning process, they will be better equipped to advertise the night and build student enthusiasm.
Literacy Literacy Literacy
Make it about Literacy strategies and nothing else—no dances, no carnival games or anything over the top. If you do that, the literacy aspect is lost because it’s all about the nonacademic fun instead of the literacy. Sure, having a school dance is fun, but the students will be there for the music, the refreshments and NOT the literacy strategies. A carnival would also be fun, but everyone would be there for the games and not the literacy strategies.
Strategies Strategies Strategies
Provide strategies that can be done at home with little or no prep. Parents ARE teachers but they are not TEACHERS!
Give the parents and guardians something they can do as soon as they get home. Make sure the strategy work is something that can be done with any type of reading.
Strategies to Use Over and Over
Don’t give ACTIVITIES that are “one and done”! See step #5 Strategies. I know...I already said this in Step #6, but I really feel strongly about this. I've seen Literacy Night activities where teachers were giving parents a packet of questions to go through and answer with their students. How was that going to help a reader grow and build a culture of literacy at home? I'm just sayin'...
Get Everyone On Board
Encourage ALL teachers to be there not just ELA teachers. Reading feeds everything, so all teachers need to be on board.
Offer incentives for teachers, such as, “jean days”, leave 30 minutes early passes, arrive 30 minutes late passes…you get the idea!
When ALL subject area teachers take part in Literacy Night, it will demonstrate how the ENTIRE campus must work together for a common goal—Literacy achievement while building that culture of literacy in the school community. This is a two-way street and works for a Math and Science Night too!
Prepare and Get Organized
The week before Literacy Night have teachers gather together (maybe a faculty meeting) and prepare their strategy station materials and booth signs, décor, etc.
The Literacy Planning Committee will want to assign staff members to each strategy booth/station. Before leaving, organize a basket for each strategy booth partnership so it’s ready to go on Literacy Night. This will make setup SO MUCH easier!
The afternoon of the event—gather the Literacy Committee and any other teacher volunteers to set up the Literacy Night area with each strategy station/booth’s basket, sign and supplies.
Open the doors and gather parents, guardians and students together in one common area to explain the setup and how the night will go. Once the layout and plan is explained, let them loose to visit each strategy booth/station to gather tools for helping their young readers at home.
Planning a large school event like Family Literacy Night takes time and energy, but it doesn't have to be overwhelming. Just break it down into these easy parts to divide and conquer the work.
Grab this FREE Planning Tool to create a Successful Parent Literacy Night where I've outlined these same steps in more detail with Ready To Use Printable resources to keep your Family Literacy Night Planning organized.
Until next time...