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10 Step Family Engagement Plan

The most effective way to get the word out about Project Appleseed's Parental Involvement Pledge is to use it in all parts of your school outreach. Make the Parental Involvement Pledge an integral point of reference for all that you do in your schools. In this way, all partners will understand how their commitments and their actions contribute to improved student learning with high-impact family engagement. Passing out the Parental Involvement Pledge to parents once and hoping for the best -- seldom works! 

 

There are three essential aspects of parent engagement — connect, engage and sustain. Using your Pledge is the critical step that moves the compact from planning to action, from paper to partnership with parents. First, people need to know about the Parental Involvement Pledge--what it is and how they can get involved. Launching the Parental Involvement Pledge is a great opportunity to create new partnerships and to reach out to families and community members who have not been involved at the school before. When it comes to "Get-Out-The-Pledge" or "GOTP" efforts, there are a number of popular tactics schools use to get families engaged with the Pledge. Some steps may not apply to your school or district.

Successful school-family partnerships require the sustained mutual collaboration, support, and participation of school staffs and families. If families are to work with schools as full partners in the education of their children, schools must provide them with the opportunities and support they need for success.

 

GOTP is just one part of your family engagement strategy, but like all aspects, it’s overseen by a committee of educators, staff family and community volunteers which may include:

  • School Secretary (Highly recommended) 

  • Principal

  • Parents group leaders

  • Parent liaison/coordinator 

  • Teachers and staff

  • District communications staff

  • Title I directors and staff

  • School counselor / Social Workers

  • Business leaders, clergy, senior citizens, law enforcement etc.etc…

Engage with Project Appleseed’s family engagement tools

Schools can start by distributing the Parental Involvement Pledge and Parental Involvement Report Card to all families by ordering Project Appleseed's Parental Involvement Toolbox.

 

1. The Parental Involvement Pledge

Almost every day, citizens are urged to lend a hand at schools. Educators welcome volunteers, but we all know that good volunteer programs don't happen by accident. Schools that are most successful in engaging parents and other family members in support of their children's learning look beyond traditional definitions of parent involvement-participating in a parent teacher organization or signing quarterly report cards-to a broader conception of parents as full partners in the education of their children.

 

2. Parental Involvement Report Card

The Parental Involvement Report Card is a self-diagnostic tool complementary tool to the Parental Involvement Pledge. It 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. The results will be emailed to you and will never be shared or sold. 

 

3. Welcome families with the Red Carpet Treatment

The Red Carpet Treatment tool is our family friendly walk through process and it is part of the Parental Involvement Toolbox. The Red Carpet Treatment is an opportunity to meet as a team in order to identify ways in which the school can create a more welcoming environment for families. Parents, including parents of children with disabilities, community members, school board members, educators, and administrators are asked to consider looking at the school through the lenses of all of the families who attend that school.

4. Survey Teachers and Staff

One of the first steps in developing a volunteer program is for staff to assess your school’s use of volunteers. You should agree on the reasons for using volunteers and how volunteers fit into the school’s structure. Use the Faculty and Staff Parental Involvement Pledge Volunteer Request in the Parental Involvement Toolbox for teachers and school staff to communicate their need for volunteers. The information should be collected by the person designated by the principal, volunteer coordinator or parent group leader who will record those needs.
 

5. Create a database of Pledged volunteers

Track and measure the family volunteer time for classrooms and schools. Input all hard copies of the Pledge into the Parental Involvement Pledge Volunteer Database xls (Included in the Parental Involvement Toolbox). Project Appleseed will provide member schools Excel spreadsheet so that all volunteers and tasks can be in one database. The Parental Involvement Pledge has an Inventory of Volunteer Interest survey with a list of opportunities that can be shared and collected by the volunteer coordinator. Now its time for your first volunteers to call these parents to remind them to return the Pledge!

6. Contact Pledged volunteers

Thank the volunteer for his or her interest in your school.  Provide a brief background of your school and clarify information from the Pledge. Let the parent, grandparent or caring adult discuss his or her background. Explain your schools’s expectations of volunteers (some of this discussion may need to occur after you’ve identified the specific position for the prospect).  Ask the volunteer if he or she has any questions or concerns. Agree on the next steps. 

 

7. Establish the process for Volunteering In the School

You might want to consider wether your district requires that volunteers must attend a volunteer orientation to review volunteer needs, roles and responsibilities, volunteer agreements, sign-in logs, fingerprinting and background checks.

 

8. Support training for teachers and other staff to work effectively with families

Project Appleseed's Traveling Workshop is a one-day session and our Parental Involvement Toolbox Training is two hours - both have highly effective transfer skills and knowledge. Project Appleseed’s workshops and online trainings provide a program for schools and communities that focuses on the techniques and skills in family engagement that has long-term benefits. 

 

9. Awards and Recognition

The school will recognize accomplishments of volunteers in at least one school-wide event and on the school board. Project Appleseed Certificates of Parental Involvement for schools and parents are part of the Parental Involvement Toolbox.

 

10. Rinse and Repeat Each Year

Did you get the number of volunteers that you wanted? Repeat this process over and over until it becomes a regular part of your school's culture. 

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What are three essential aspects of​ parent engagement? 

Connect, engage and sustain.

 

A dozen ways to engage parents and families

Today, everyone is overwhelmed with information, and many people have trouble listening to any message closely. Experts say that it often takes eight reminders or notices for someone to say finally, "I've heard of that." When spreading the word about the Parental Involvement Pledge and encouraging people to support it, be patient: you can count on having to remind people many times. A Parental Involvement Pledge marketing effort designed to reach all parents/caregivers — several times — will raise awareness about your school's Parental Involvement Pledge drive. 

Face-to-Face Contact

  • Parent-Teacher Conferences: Discuss student progress during parent-teacher conferences. Explain the school's high academic expectations for all students.  The process can begin with the distribution of the Parental Involvement Pledge at parent/teacher conferences. Parent/teacher conferences and meetings must include the Parental Involvement Pledge Compact as it relates to the child’s achievement as required by Title I, Section 1116, (Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015. Parent/teacher conferences shall occur at least annually, during which the compact shall be discussed as the compact relates to the individual child’s achievement. 

  • Teacher home visits: Research has found evidence that teacher home visits could increase student performance, jumpstart parent engagement, reduce discipline problems and increase overall positive attitudes toward school. If done correctly, a home visit program can give teachers, parents and students a better opportunity for connection, communication and collaboration.

 

  • Reach out to groups at the right meetings, events and venues: Aim to reach lots of people, especially those who family members who might not be ready to be involved at school or home. 

  • Events: Schools are encouraged to host a new event on — or move an existing event to National Parent Involvement Day and Public School Volunteer Week to honor parents. This is the perfect opportunity to ask parents and families to take the Parental Involvement Pledge. At school open houses parents can take the Pledge on-line through any school computers connected to the Internet.

  • Groups: Coordinate with organizations already doing parent and family engagement in your school community, such as your school’s parent groups like the PTA/PTO. Touch base with all the school’s stakeholders to let them know your plans, provide them copies of the Parental Involvement Pledge, and ask them to attend any offered family engagement meetings or trainings.

  • Community: Churches neighborhood gathering places, community colleges, technical schools, vocational/alternative schools. Community/sporting events

 

  • Door-to-door canvassing: This tactic involves volunteers knocking on doors and asking parents face-to-face to show up and volunteer in school. Some volunteers shy away from this kind of engagement, but it’s proven to be more efficacious than phone campaigns.

Telecommunications

  • Text messaging: In the era of cell phones, text messaging has proven to be a notably effective way of reaching people. It’s a particularly popular way of connecting with younger parents, who may actively prefer texting as opposed to speaking on the phone. According to Child Trends 2021 research revie, several studies noted that parents found informational texts to be helpful and a good way to receive information from a trusted source). Despite being a light-touch support, evaluations of text blasts found that exposure to text messages could impact some parents’ beliefs, for example, about their preparedness for motherhood and even increase parent engagement in activities with their child at home.

  • Phone calls: Volunteers can call families and remind them of their volunteering options. This is a popular tactic because it allows volunteers to participate from anywhere there’s a phone. However, it’s considered increasingly ineffective in the era of caller ID and unlisted cell phone numbers. 

Online Outreach

  • Email: Emailing families to remind them of goals or upcoming meetings, provide suggestions, tips, or prompts to try out an activity, or just check in can be used to supplement in-person or virtual interventions keep important information on parents’ minds and encourage best practices.

 

  • Online forums and virtual group meetings: Online forums and virtual group meetings were engagement strategies used to supplement several online learning and virtual coaching programs identified in our review. Virtual “bulletin boards” or forums were common and enabled participants to share their experiences and participate in discussions, sometimes in response to prompts posted by staff, as they completed training programs. In addition to online learning programs, monthly group videoconferences was also used as a strategy in one-on-one virtual coaching programs to allow opportunities for families to connect and support one another.

 

  • Social Media: Many parents are already on Facebook and Twitter, so it makes sense to communicate with them about the Pledge on platforms with which they are already familiar. Online GOTP efforts often seek to educate them about the process.

Media

  • Contact local media: Reach out to your local media to let them know when and where you’ll be distributing the Pledge. Ask the local newspaper to reprint the Parental Involvement Pledge as part of Newspapers In Education.

Direct Mail

  • Direct mail: This is an early outreach form of GOTP. It involves mailing flyers that remind parents of school event dates, ways they can volunteer, and they can volunteer.  Include the Pledge in back-to-school and new student orientation packets. Reprint the Pledge to include the school's newsletter. Backpack the Pledge to be sent home as a handout with the students. Attach the Pledge to the weekly lunch menu.

Our Model for Change

Project Appleseed's logic model provides the basic framework that illustrates our program’s theory of change. It shows how day-to-day activities connect to the outcomes and impacts the program it seeks to achieve.

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