School Resources

Family engagement as a core component of educational goals

Your back-to-school letter is a wonderful opportunity to make a great first impression, start off on the right foot and make sure that teachers, parents and the administration are all on the same page. It’s also a rare chance to get your vision and mission for your school down on paper and on the record. So, what should you say and how should you say it?

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.

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.

After a three year study of 14 schools engaging in teacher home visits for students, researchers at the California State University at Sacramento (CSUS) found evidence that home visits could increase student performance, jumpstart parent involvement, 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.

Your school's investment in the Parental Involvement Toolbox yields a high rate of return. The Independent Sector's latest estimated value of volunteer time is $23.07 per hour. Each volunteer who takes the Parental Involvement Pledge will contribute $230.00 in volunteer time!  Use the value of volunteer time to report family engagement data, forrecognition events or communications to show the amount of community support an organization receives from its volunteers.

Project Appleseed's Parental Involvement Pledge is the primary tool in the Parental Involvement Toolbox. The Toolbox is the point of enrollment that schools take to become involved in Project Appleseed. The Toolbox is designed for educators and parent leaders who strive to increase and mobilize family engagement to improve student outcomes. Schools organize parent responsibility with an effective model that is research based, meets district and state mandates Title I and best practices. Use the Pledge to celebrate Project Appleseed's National Parental Involvement Day and Public School Volunteer Week!

Helicopter parents – parents who ‘hover’ over their children – have good intentions but can ultimately harm their children’s healthy development and disrupt the schools they attend. While teachers, principals, and school administrators often wish that parents were more involved in the school community, a minority of over-supportive and sometimes overbearing parents can actually get in the way of student progress.

During their elementary years, children develop attitudes about learning that can last for the rest of their lives. Those who are challenged, stimulated, supported and encouraged often become motivated learners while other children, who may have had less support, can lack internal motivation. However, all young children still have the ability to develop an enthusiasm for learning with the help of their teachers, peers, parents and mentors.

Every teacher knows that it is difficult to lead a parent teacher conference – and yet student-led parent/teacher conferences are growing in popularity in elementary schools across the nation, with students as young as six years old helping their parents and their teachers connect and converse. Why are both parents and teachers finding this new and innovative form of parent/teacher conferences so effective? And how can student-led parent/teacher conferences help children succeed in the classroom?

According to the National Youth Violence Prevention Center, one out of three students has either been the victim of bullying or acted as a bully, and each day 160,000 children miss school due to a fear of being bullied. Nationally, over five million students are affected by bullying while in school – something that has been shown to harm self-esteem, stall learning, and even lead to serious physical and emotional harm.

Even the best teachers are sometimes faced with volatile, overwhelming, or overbearing parents – it simply comes with the job. But while dealing with irate or angry parents can’t be avoided, instructors can learn helpful strategies for communicating and cooperating with difficult parents and ultimately, improve the learning experience for the student in question.

There are roughly 150 plus days and about 26 weeks, between Project Appleseed's 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. 

A 10% increase in parental participation (a form of social capital) would increase academic achievement far more than a 10% increase in school spending. This is not an argument against school budget increases, but an argument for paying attention to social capital (Putnam, Sanders 2001). Research repeatedly correlates family engagement with student achievement, yet this strategy is rarely activated as an integral part of school reform efforts (Weiss et al, 2010).  Our program can increase family engagement by considering these steps.

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Barriers to Family Involvement in Education

Recent research shows that numerous barriers to involvement exist for both schools and families. Some barriers are created by limited resources, while others originate from the beliefs, perceptions and attitudes of families and school staff.

A 10 Step Family Engagement Plan

The most important and 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 program. Make the Parental Involvement Pledge an integral point of reference for all that you do at your school. In this way, all partners will understand how their commitments and their actions contribute to improved student learning and high achievement for all students. Here are some ways you can make your Parental Involvement Pledge count.

Project Appleseed
Principals, Title I coordinators and parent liaisons , start here...

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 Project Appleseed's program description here.

Project Appleseed

Beyond Random Acts:

Family, School, and Community Engagement as an Integral Part of Education Reform

Family, school, and community engagement in education should be an essential strategy in building a pathway to college-­‐ and career-­‐readiness in today’s competitive global society. Research repeatedly correlates family engagement with student achievement, yet this strategy is rarely activated as an integral part of school reform efforts. Now is the time to transform family engagement strategies so that they are intentionally aligned with student learning and achievement.

Pledge

AS A PARENT, GRANDPARENT, OR CARING ADULT, I hereby give my pledge of commitment to help our community’s children ....

Toolbox

Project Appleseed's Parental Involvement Toolbox is ourl program designed for educators and parent leaders to supersize and mobilize family engagement.

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.

Membership

You get unlimited membership reproduction rights to our web site content for distribution in newsletters, memos, booklets, pamphlets and more for one year!*

Checklist

How well does your school reach out to parents. The following questions can help you evaluate how well your school is reaching out to parents.

Training

Learn family engagement with our In-person or Online training!. Utilize one of America's most accessible parent and family engagement leaders in your schools!

Events

For 25 years we have lead American education with two celebrated events – National Parental Involvement Day and Public School Volunteer Week

Slideshow

Download our slideshow: Strong Families, Strong Schools! Family engagement should be an essential strategy in building partnership with parents.