You can’t get a more important stakeholder for a child’s education than family. Parent Involvement is crucial for student success. However, engaging families can be a challenge for many schools. While parents care deeply about their kids’ learning, various barriers like work schedules, language differences, and lack of familiarity with the school system can prevent participation.
In this blog post, we’ll explore proven methods for schools to authentically engage parents and build collaborative family-school partnerships. By making engagement accessible, inclusive and responsive to parents’ needs, schools can promote student achievement both inside and outside the classroom.
Why Parent Engagement Matters
Decades of education research underscores the link between family engagement and positive student outcomes like:
- Higher test scores and grades
- Increased enrollment in advanced courses
- Better school attendance
- Higher graduation rates
- Improved social skills and behavior
Students whose families actively support learning at home and collaborate with teachers perform better academically. Engaged parents also develop a sense of belonging to the school community.
However, surveys show many parents don’t feel schools are effectively engaging them. It’s essential for school leaders to prioritize family engagement strategies to close this gap.
When parents, students and schools partner together, the entire community benefits. Let’s look at proven ways to make that connection.
1. Create a Welcoming School Environment
The foundation of family engagement is making parents feel welcome from day one. Every interaction with staff and teachers should be positive. Consider school signage and materials translated into students’ home languages. Designate parent-family liaisons focused on outreach. Provide plenty of opportunities to meet staff and ask questions.
2. Keep Communication Open and Consistent
Frequent and clear communication makes parents feel connected. Maintain an open-door philosophy for addressing concerns. Use multiple modes like email, texting apps, social media, phone calls, and paper notices to accommodate all families. Make sure communication flows both ways.
3. Host Academic Orientations and Open Houses
Events at the start of the school year help families understand expectations and curriculum. Let parents tour facilities, meet teachers and staff, learn about services like ESL or Special Ed, and review handbooks and schedules. Provide food, interpreters, and childcare to increase accessibility.
4. Get Parent Perspectives with Surveys
Conduct annual surveys to gauge families’ experiences and get suggestions for improvement. Ask about communication methods, volunteering, decision-making roles, classroom concerns, and support needed. Make sure surveys are translated and available in multiple formats. Analyze and share results.
5. Send Home Newsletters Highlighting Learning Goals
Classroom or grade-level newsletters inform parents what students are learning and how to extend learning at home. Spotlight current topics and concepts, suggested activities, educational apps and websites, books to read, upcoming projects, and ways to build skills.
6. Provide At-Home Learning Toolkits
Send kits with hands-on materials and guidance for learning activities to do as a family. For lower grades, include sight word cards, counting manipulatives and book suggestions. For upper grades, incorporate math games, science experiment instructions, research materials, and writing prompts.
7. Host Family Education Nights
Plan quarterly evenings where families join teachers to explore a topic like math, reading, internet safety or state testing. Provide dinner, interpreters, and childcare. Include interactive stations, discussions, Q&A’s, and relationship building among parents.
8. Form Parent Advisory Committees
Recruit diverse parents to participate in leadership committees for input on policies, programs, communication, volunteer roles, fundraisers and more. Meet regularly and share how the school is incorporating the committee’s feedback.
9. Support Two-Way Parent-Teacher Communication
Set expectations for teachers to initiate timely positive contact about each child’s progress, not just negative news. Use visits, phone calls, emails, and progress reports. Ensure teachers accommodate work schedules and language needs. Encourage parents to voice concerns.
10. Involve Families in Student Data Conversations
Schedule annual parent-teacher conferences to discuss the child’s data like grades, test scores, attendance, and behavior. Set student learning goals together. Follow up throughout the year and modify goals as needed.
11. Offer Parent Workshops on Relevant Topics
Based on parent survey feedback, provide workshops on useful issues like supporting early literacy, managing children’s behavior and screen time, talking about tough issues, preventing bullying, transitioning to middle school, and more. Provide food, childcare and interpreters.
12. Connect Parents to Community Resources
Maintain partnerships with local organizations like libraries, cultural centers, social service agencies, and athletic facilities to share resources and activities with families. Collaborate on parenting classes, referrals, student mentorships, and other initiatives.
Let’s Partner Together!
By intentionally removing barriers and offering parents diverse, flexible opportunities for engagement, schools can cultivate the strong family-school partnerships that support student success. What strategies have worked well in your school community? Making engagement a priority takes commitment but pays invaluable dividends. Our students thrive when schools, families, and communities align in partnership. Let’s work together!
Q: What is family engagement?
A: Family engagement refers to the collaborative and continuous involvement of parents and families in their children’s education and development. It involves creating strong partnerships between schools, families, and the community to support student success.
Q: Why is it important to engage parents in student success?
A: Engaging parents in student success is important because research shows that when parents are actively involved in their children’s education, it leads to better academic achievement, improved behavior, and higher graduation rates. When parents are engaged, there is a strong support system in place to help students succeed.
Q: How can schools connect with families?
A: Schools can connect with families by organizing regular parent-teacher conferences, sending home newsletters or emails, using technology platforms to communicate with parents, and involving them in school events and activities. By fostering open lines of communication, schools can build strong partnerships with families.
Q: What are some effective ways to engage parents in school?
A: Some effective ways to engage parents in school include hosting parent education workshops, providing opportunities for parents to volunteer or join school committees, creating a welcoming and inclusive school environment, and seeking their input on important decisions that affect students and the school community.
Q: How can family engagement improve student learning outcomes?
A: Family engagement can improve student learning outcomes by creating a positive and supportive home-learning environment. When parents are involved in their children’s education, they can help reinforce learning concepts, provide additional support, and advocate for their child’s needs within the school.
Q: What role do teachers and school staff play in engaging parents?
A: Teachers and school staff play a key role in engaging parents by establishing regular communication channels, providing resources and information, partnering with families to support student success, and respecting and valuing their contributions to the school community.
Q: How can parents and school staff work together to support families?
A: Parents and school staff can work together to support families by establishing open and respectful lines of communication, collaborating on strategies to address individual student needs, sharing relevant information and resources, and encouraging parental involvement in decision-making processes.
Q: What are some benefits of community engagement in education?
A: Community engagement in education brings various benefits, such as increased resources and support for schools, expanded learning opportunities for students, improved school health and safety, enhanced partnerships between schools and local organizations, and a sense of belonging and shared responsibility for student success.
Q: How can schools improve student engagement through parental involvement?
A: Schools can improve student engagement through parental involvement by inviting parents to participate in their child’s learning experiences, encouraging them to attend school events and activities, involving them in decision-making processes, and regularly seeking their feedback and input.
Q: What can schools do to enhance communication between schools and parents?
A: Schools can enhance communication between schools and parents by using multiple channels of communication, such as emails, newsletters, phone calls, and online platforms. They can also provide translated materials to accommodate diverse populations, offer flexible meeting times, and ensure that parents feel welcomed and respected.
- Family engagement promotes student achievement, behavior, graduation rates and school community belonging.
- Create an inviting school environment and keep communication open, consistent and two-way.
- Host in-person events to connect families to the school community.
- Survey parents annually, analyze results, and incorporate feedback.
- Provide curriculum information and at-home learning materials regularly.
- Offer parent workshops on supporting learning and navigating school issues.
- Facilitate ongoing parent-teacher communication and data conversations.
- Invite parent perspectives through leadership committees and advisory councils.
- Link parents to community resources like libraries and cultural centers.