150 Days of Family Engagement!
There are roughly 150 plus days and about 26 weeks, between National Parental Involvement Day in November and Public School Volunteer Week in April, each school year. Each day, each week, represents an opportunity to engage parents.
When parents are involved in children's learning, at school and at home, schools work better and students learn more. Project Appleseed is working with schools, families, employers and community organizations to develop local partnerships that support a safe school environment where students learn to challenging standards. To get the best results from your parental involvement efforts we want you and your schools to join our movement to plant the seeds of school improvement in your local schools with National Parental Involvement Day and Public School Volunteer Week! Here are some activities your schools can get involved in from A-Z:
Engagement Activities From A - Z
Ask your school board, mayor, city council, state representative or governor to issue a proclamation celebrating National Parental Involvement Day (Third Thursday in November) and Public School Volunteer Week (Third Week of April) to highlight the value of parental involvement in your schools.
Public School Volunteer Week
Week 2Breakfast for families, community members, school leaders, teachers, and students is great way to bring the community together. Food is a big draw! Host a series of breakfast forums on volunteering opportunities, higher standards, the school's curriculum, conflict resolution, dealing with peer pressure, linking community art, museum and cultural resources with the schools and applying to college.
Brunch in the Plum Borough School District, Pennsylvania -Volunteer Recognition Brunch - Pivik staff and students appreciate all of the hard work of our volunteers. During Public School Volunteer Week, we recognized almost 200 volunteers at a brunch in their honor. Each grade level and staff member contributed to this event and we are thrilled to give back to these very generous individuals!
Week 3Checklist For An Effective Parent-School Partnership is a great way to start improving your school's parent-school partnerships is by assessing present practices, says Joyce Epstein at Johns Hopkins University. Asking the right questions can help you evaluate how well your school is reaching out to parents. Which partnership practices are currently working well at each grade level? Which partnership practices should be improved or added in each grade? How do you want your school's family involvement practices to look three years from now?
A Checklist for Administrators
There are many requirements related to parental involvement across the Title I, Part A programs. This tool gives users an idea of the scope of the parental involvement provisions. Download: A Checklist for School & District Administrators.
Duplicate and distribute the Parental Involvement Pledge which ask parents to volunteer 10 hours each in their local school and spend 15 minutes each night reading with their children. Sending the Pledge home with students will get a response rate of about 25%--or less. Asking parents to take the Pledge during their parent teacher conference will get a response rate approaching 80%. Constantly ask parents to take the Pledge at every opportunity. Use Project Appleseed's web site as a place in which parents can take the Pledge or Report Card online. The web site will print a hard copy for the school and parent. Once parents take the Pledge--CALL THEM and get them involved!
Encourage students to teach their parents about health and safety behaviors they learn in school. Download Parent Engagement: Strategies for Involving Parents in School Health - This document was prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The strategies and actions recommended in this publication are based on a synthesis of parent engagement and involvement research and guidance from the fields of education, health, psychology, and sociology.
Give parents opportunities to be involved in developing or reviewing school health and safety policies, such as policies pertaining to alcohol, drug, and tobacco use prevention; injury and violence prevention; foods and beverages allowed at school parties; frequency of class celebrations involving unhealthy foods; and non-food rewards.
Host an open house at the school for parents and community members. Hold it in the evening or on the weekend so that more people can attend. At open house, ask every family to bring a member of the community to the picnic who did not have kids in the school. It provides parents with an opportunity to see the school firsthand and feel more comfortable with the idea of getting involved.
School volunteers get
as much as they give
From Brad Hughes, spokesman for the Kentucky School Board Association: If it's an overstatement to claim that volunteering in schools has changed my life, it's not that much of a stretch. Ask my colleagues at the Kentucky School Board Association (KSBA) if they can't tell which day of the week I've been to Second Street School to read to "my kids." Ask my wife, Judy, if I don't come home with stories and smiles that lifted my day and eased any tensions.
Initiate a parent involvement policy. Start with Project Appleseed's learning compact, the Parental Involvement Pledge. The Pledge provides a great opportunity to convey a school's commitment to involving families and the community. Set up a parent resource center where families can come to get more information on topics of interest and where families can meet and talk with one another and with school staff.
Join with families to identify health promotion projects in the community that could involve parents. For example, invite family members to participate in physical activities at school or in the community, such as runs or walkathons.
Kick off National Parental Involvement Day & Public School Volunteer Week with a special welcome for new students and families in the community. Host discussions about how parents can support healthy behaviors at home. Such discussions might be held at open houses and back-to-school nights, at parent meetings, and during parent-teacher conferences.
Launch a community mentoring program where parent volunteers and college students mentor high school and middle school students who, in turn, can mentor elementary school students. Mentoring can involve learning math and science - key gateopening courses for college - going to a museum, community service activities, recreational activities such as a mentor basketball league, tutoring and homework help.
Make school facilities available for use by community organizations that will host activities for students and their parents outside of school hours. The National Policy and Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity (www.nplanonline.org) offers free resources on using school facilities for community use and developing joint agreements.
Name your National Parental Involvement Day & Public School Volunteer Week after your school or community (In Topeka, name the event Topeka Parental Involvement Day and Topeka Public School Volunteer Week). Use a variety of communication methods, such as flyers, memos, banners, signs, door hangers, newsletters, report cards, progress reports, post cards, letters, monthly calendars of events, Web sites and Web boards, text messaging, and e-mail messages to communicate with parents about health-related topics and issues.
Organize a rally and/or a parade. Often, communities with large events have a steering committee of various interested community and school leaders, such as the school superintendent, the mayor, school board members, city council members, local business people, and representatives from organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, the YMCA/YWCA, the United Way, The Boys and Girls Club, Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs, and the Urban League.
Present an honorary award to a local government official or local leader in recognition of his or her contribution to education in your community. Awards could be based on the level of involvement community members have given to the school. Celebrate with recognition ceremonies for teachers, students, parents, and community and religious organization volunteers who have made a long-term commitment to children's learning to inspire more people to jump in and get involved.
Quiz potential volunteers about the talents, skills, and time they are willing to share using the Inventory of Volunteer Interests in Step 3 of the Parental Involvement Pledge. Invite parent volunteers to lead lunch-time walks, weekend games, and after-school exercise programs in dance, cheerleading, karate, aerobics, yoga, and other activities that show their skills and talents.51 For example, a parent who is a personal trainer might be willing to volunteer at a health fair, or a parent who is a gardener might be willing to start a school garden.
Reach out and provide open lines of communication for receiving comments and suggestions from parents on health- related topics, and build the school’s capacity to route this information to the intended persons. Establish multiple mechanisms for gathering opinions from parents, students, and teachers, such as on-site suggestion boxes, annual parent surveys, random- sample parent phone surveys, parent/teacher focus groups, and school-sponsored parent blogs.
Suggest ways parents can make family outings fun learning experiences and promote healthy behaviors (e.g., picking fruit or hiking). Ask parents to engage their children in health-related learning experiences, such as cooking dinner and packing lunch together, shopping for healthy foods, and reading labels on over-the-counter medicines.
Train teachers to develop family-based education strategies that involve parents in discussions about health topics with their children (e.g., homework assignments that involve parent participation) and health promotion projects in the community.
Use Use a variety of verbal and face-to-face communication methods, such as phone calls to home, automated phone system messages, parent-teacher conferences, meetings, school events, radio station announcements, local access television, television public service announcements (PSAs), conversations at school, and regular parent seminars to communicate with parents about health topics and issues.
Vary the events volunteers can participate in. Invite parent volunteers to lead lunch-time walks, weekend games, and after-school exercise programs in dance, cheerleading, karate, aerobics, yoga, and other activities that show their skills and talents. For example, a parent who is a personal trainer might be willing to volunteer at a health fair, or a parent who is a gardener might be willing to start a school garden.
Work with local businesses to encourage them to allow their employees to take the Parental Involvement Pledge and time off to come to school - to volunteer, to attend a parent-teacher conference, to find out what's going on in the schools.
X-ray your efforts to see how they're going. It's important to evaluate
what you're doing to find out if you are achieving your aims, and how you can improve your efforts. An evaluation can be as simple as asking people what they think or conducting a short survey. Don't let problems go unattended. If something is not working, get a group together to problem-solve and figure out a better way. Taking the time to reflect on what's happening will be worth it in the long run when you see sustained success and true collaboration in place!
Zzzzz. Get some rest - its been a good effort!
Copyright 2010 PACE / Project Appleseed, the National Campaign for Public School Improvement, a 501 (c) (3) Nonprofit All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2010 Project Appleseed - All Rights Reserved