Five Ways of Getting Parents More Involved at School
Scientific analysis shows that when parents are involved at school their children are 30 percent more successful, according to the Parent Institute. And yet, parents are not always invited to become involved in their child’s education. It takes a commitment on the part of teachers and school administrators to improve parent involvement and to support efforts to increase it.
Here are five easy-to-implement ways of getting parents more involved at school.
1. Ask Parents To Get Involved
Engaging parents is a multi-step process. The first step is simply reaching out and asking parents to get involved at school. Invitations to school activities, such as lunch visits, assemblies, concerts and student-led activities are a great way to introduce parents to a school’s culture, as well as to its teachers, staff, and administration. The opportunity to meet other parents is also a great way to increase involvement.
Encouraging parents to attend parent-teacher conferences, open houses and back-to-school events give parents the opportunity to see their child’s work and learn more about any student successes or challenges.
Other invitations can be extended for parents to:
- Help in the lunchroom
- Assist in class
- Volunteer for a fundraiser
- Share history, work experience or other stories with the students
- Tutor children
- Help in computer or science labs
- Accompany classes on field trips
There are so many ways to engage parents in their child’s education. Many parents will not take the initiative, so schools must become proactive and make regular requests.
2. Make Parents Feel Like Part of the Team
Teachers and administrators can increase parent involvement at school by making parents their partners in a child’s education. Some parents may believe that teachers can do it all, or that they are not needed. They may even feel unwelcome in the school or classroom.
Schools can help bring parents on board by:
- Improving communication, including returning phone calls and emails quickly
- Scheduling activities and events at flexible times for working parents
- Teaching parents how to help their child and the school
- Encourage active discussion about school progress and standardized test scores during PTO/PTA meetings.
- Providing guidelines on how to support education
3. Designate a Space For Parents
Creating a welcoming atmosphere is crucial to improving parent participation. Parents may not become involved at school because they don’t know where to go or how to begin. Teachers might think they’ve done all they can to communicate that parents are welcome.
There is a sure way to communicate that parents are needed and wanted at the school: creating a “parent room.” In fact, helping with such a space can be a perfect introduction to what it’s like to be involved at school. Teachers can enlist parents by asking what they would like to see in the parent room – and then ask them to help make it happen.
4. Avoid Pre-Judging Parents’ Ability to Become Involved at School
A few reminders about what NOT to do when approaching parents about becoming more involved at school:
- Don’t make decisions about a parent’s abilities based on appearance
- Don’t limit a parent’s involvement based on socio-economic status
- Don’t assume a parent is inclined to become involved – or not – based on income
- Don’t forget that parents, whether they are middle-income, low-income, one-parent, two-parent, physically or mentally challenged, are all interested in their student’s success and well-being
- Don’t hesitate to offer every parent the opportunity to participate in activities
5. Send Lists of Needs and Opportunities Home with Students
Encourage parental involvement at school. Make it part of your communication and outreach plan to find out what talents, knowledge and abilities your school’s parents have to offer.
- Compile a list of needs and volunteer opportunities.
- Be specific and enthusiastic. For example, rather than “Garden volunteers needed,” try, “We need four volunteers to dig in the dirt for one hour per week. Help us plant our garden!”
- Ask parents to fill out a skills and interests assessment and create a database for future opportunities.
- Brainstorm with other teachers to determine what skills fit which jobs.
- Once you’ve matched a need with a skill, contact the parent and ask for their help.
When Parents Are Involved At School, A Child’s Education Is More Successful
It’s hard to argue with student success. And there is little doubt that as parents are regularly involved in a child’s education, their student will have better attendance, grades, and even self-esteem. Numerous studies show that as parents become involved in school, children achieve more – regardless of socioeconomic status, parent’s education level, or ethnic or racial background. Getting parents involved in school is in everyone’s best interests, and these five strategies can help.
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