Photo captured a family study circle around the largest boulder in Estonia – Muuga Kabelikivi

Estonian Reading Association’s project “HELLO, SCHOOL!” was organized for family members of pupils with native language other than Estonian.

When research has been carried out about other language pupils’ studies and well-being in Estonian language school, it has been pointed out that the family who enrolls their child in Estonian language school would need more support and attention from the school.

The workshop consisted of practical studies of the Estonia language. Desired participants were parents with a native language other than Estonian that have enrolled their child in an Estonian school; grandparents, siblings, and other family members of above children were invited to take part in the workshop as well. The workshop project consisted of seven study days which included a visit to a local museum and a bus trip to places of interest in the vicinity. Through educational games, computerized environments, and a variety of activities participants had the opportunity to learn and practice vocabulary and expressions which come in handy in understanding the child’s school-based activity and communicating with other parents, teachers and staff members at school.

There were parents from three schools engaged in the project and workshop classes took place during September, October and November in 2018.

The result of the project was increased interest in studying Estonian language: parents were interested in further learning possibilities. Parents were able to experience the skills of their children: in a web-based game the children were able to guide them. Differences in curricula and grading in Estonian school were explained.

Quite from the start it became clear that it is easier to bring non-Estonian speaking family members to school through their children and therefore whole family events were often organized. Most popular were visits to local museums, followed by further trips to museums in Haapsalu, Tartu, Paide and Vargamäe’s Tammsaare museum.

When organizing similar study activities in the future, it is important to consider parents’ individual wishes and opportunities, and organize such activities very flexibly both in time, space as well as form. It is important to find one fixed employee in school who would work with this type of projects committedly and be the support person for non-Estonian speaking parents.

All great endeavors start from someone’s idea and courage and perhaps this person would be a non-Estonian speaking parent, who can thus greatly influence school life development and the well-being of the whole school. Let’s invite them to school and show with our actions that they matter.