Encouraging Parent Involvement In Schools –
Without Straining The Budget
All too often, parent involvement in schools is not much more than the summation of a parent-teacher conference and an open house night. If parents are ever contacted individually by teachers, it is usually concerning a behavioral or academic issue in the classroom, and parents are left with a negative view of what it means to be involved with their children’s school. However, parent involvement is vital in student success and in creating a healthy, effective school environment.
Plan your Open House.: A parent night is a great opportunity to connect with your students’ parents, familiarize them with your teaching style and classroom, and let them know what you expect from their children in the coming year. More than that, it is the perfect opportunity to get parents involved with the school and volunteering. However, parent night, family nights and open houses leave little time for one-on-one conversations or extended meetings.
Make the first contact a positive one. Teachers should not be introducing themselves to parents moments before explaining that their child has gotten into trouble or has fallen behind academically. At the beginning of the year, reach out to parents through a letter or email. Don’t just call home if a child has acted out or caused concern, call when the child has accomplished something notable. Take five minutes each day to send a postcard home to one child’s parents remarking on a specific achievement.
Recruit parent classroom volunteers. Some parents want to be involved but don’t know how. Having groups of parents work on acquiring supplies, positing bulletin boards, and other activities behind the scenes is a great way to get parents in the school and save the teachers from extra tasks. With a little informal training, parents can also be valuable inside the classroom as aides, readers, test monitors, and tutors. Not sure how to reach interested parents? Use your new blog?
Ask parents to use the Parental Involvement Report Card. Project Appleseed provides this self-diagnostic tool which is intended to help parents rate their contributions to their child's success at school. Use these 31 questions as a guide to discover some of the ways that you can help your child at home and at school.
Identify parents’ special skills with the Parental Involvement Pledge. If you know one of your students’ parents is a chemist, bring her in for a demonstration during a science block. If you know one of your parents is a baker, bring her in to help make gingerbread houses during the holidays. If you know one of your parents is a carpenter, ask him for help on the school play set design. Many parents are happy to help out especially when they are being singled out for their talents.
Keep parents informed. Send home a list of the skills and subjects that each child will be responsible for learning during the school year. This will help parents know what skill level their child should be performing at and give them an opportunity to involve themselves in their child’s learning after school. In addition, parents will be more aware of academic issues and difficulties if they appear.
Ask for input on the school's parent involvement policy. As a component of the school-level parental involvement policy mandated by federal law Title I, each school served under this part shall jointly develop with parents for all children served under this part a school-parent compact that outlines how parents, the entire school staff, and students will share the responsibility for improved student achievement and the means by which the school and parents will build and develop a partnership to help children achieve the State's high standards.
Don’t forget fathers. A recent study published by the Education Resource Information Center shows that a father’s participation in school events increases student achievement – and yet fathers are often forgotten in many parent-teacher activities and programs. Make sure that your parent events are father-friendly and don’t hesitate to have one involved father recruit other fathers.
Start a blog. A school-wide blog run by an administrator or an individual classroom blog run by a teacher can be a wonderfully way to reach out to parents on a regular basis – and they are free and easy to set up. A blog can keep parents informed of the daily and weekly events at the school and alert those to opportunities to become involved themselves. If parents are more aware of what goes on in the classroom, they will be better able to offer specific help.
Hold a school-wide book club. There are a number of high-quality young adult novels that everyone in the family can enjoy. By holding a school-wide book club, parents, students, teachers, and administrators can all have a common starting point for conversation – and students will have the added bonus of seeing their mentors reading for fun.
Project Appleseed engages three distinct groups of parents
Public Agenda research demonstrates that public school parents fall into three categories. Project Appleseed's Parental Involvement Toolbox is designed to engage each group with evidence based strategies.
Parents Who Are Concerned About Their Own Children’s Learning and Need Help..
Parents Who Want to Help Out More in Traditional Ways at Their Children’s Schools
Parents Who Would Like More Say in their Children’s Schools and Are Poised to Take Action