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.