How to Increase Parental Involvement in Schools
Children have higher academic performance when their parents are involved in their education. Research has found that parent-child interactions can significantly impact a child's educational development. Parental involvement impacts attendance, self-esteem, behavior, homework completion and overall academic achievement. As a teacher, you can encourage more parent involvement in your classroom to foster student success.
Understand Communication Downfalls and Engagement Challenges
Improving parent involvement in schools can be challenging. Parents have busy work schedules, and communication can sometimes fall short. You can encourage parents with the following strategies to facilitate their engagement:
Be clear and specific when you communicate about student expectations, assignments and other important class details. This helps parents support and encourage their children to take responsibility and complete work on time.
You should also be clear when you communicate about volunteer opportunities for parents. Provide ways for them to help with student activities, class events and other classroom pursuits. Maybe you need parents to listen to students read or help with daily work? Sometimes it may be helping plan school parties or chaperone field trips. Different tasks appeal to different parents, so make sure you ask for specific help where you need it.
Overcome language barriers to ensure you maintain communication with all parents. Some parents may have a different linguistic background and speak less English than their child. In these instances, you can ask the student, other school staff or other parents to help with translation. Making efforts to communicate with parents despite language differences will help them remain connected to and involved in their child's education.
Reach out to parents on a regular basis and ensure that they know how to get in touch with you and stay updated on ways they can help in the classroom. Communicate consistently about classroom updates, volunteer opportunities and other information. Parents may not be able to volunteer or visit the classroom the first time you ask, but that does not mean they won't be able to in the future.
Engage Working Parents
Working parents may have less time to commit to working in the classroom or meeting to discuss their child's progress, but they can help in other ways. Think of creative ways to include working parents. You can plan evening events such as an open house night or a night for families to help with a special educational project. Organize an after-school reading event that gives families a chance to share their favorite books and read to each other.
Create a parent survey to collect information about days and times that work best for busy parents and plan events at convenient times for them. This will give parents more opportunities to help, and organizing events around their schedules will encourage them to get involved.
To share concerns or student successes with busy parents, you can offer to schedule a home visit or set up a video meeting at a suitable time for them. You can also offer after-school meeting times for parents to sign up for if they have any concerns or questions about their child's progress.
Parents sometimes hesitate to sign up for volunteer opportunities because they are afraid they'll over-commit. Make volunteering easier by creating specific tasks and time frames parents can sign up for. Using online sign-up and scheduling tools like signup.com or SignUpGenius lets parents schedule themselves for shifts that work for them.
Recognizing and thanking parents for helping is an excellent way to keep them coming back. Let them know that you and your students value their contributions. Give them a thank-you note from you or the students or a shout-out on the classroom social media channels — you have various ways to let them know you value their contribution.
You can also show appreciation when you notice parents are more involved with their child's education at home by providing positive academic successes. For example, if you recently communicated that a student needs to practice reading at home, send an email to the parents when you notice an improvement in the student's reading skills to let them know their involvement is making a positive impact.
Utilize Social Media to Connect Parents
Social media platforms can help parents receive class updates and connect with teachers and other caregivers. These platforms are also a great way to inform and remind parents about upcoming events and help students stay connected with their teachers and peers. Websites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms can help teachers foster community among parents and support communication. Create a survey to gauge which platforms parents prefer, and choose one that fits most preferences.
You can build a community on social media for parents to connect with and use that platform to share class event updates and post volunteer opportunities. Doing so allows caregivers to communicate with each other and even team up on some class activities or events.
Use Technology, Websites and Newsletters to Send Updates
Newsletters, blogs, online student portals and emails are other great ways to keep parents updated. You can send weekly, monthly or quarterly newsletters through email, social media or a class blog. Get students involved by allowing them to take turns writing the newsletters, or share student work to highlight their achievements. These communication channels provide a fun way to keep parents updated and involved.
Educational platforms such as Class Dojo, Seesaw and Google Classroom allow teachers to share updates, grades, concerns, achievements and successes. Elementary school teachers may help parents stay up to date on student expectations and assignments by sharing assignment details. This helps parents remain involved in their child's education because it enables them to encourage their child to complete assignments and provide assistance when needed.
Parents can sign up for daily or weekly alerts on some platforms to stay updated. This ability is especially helpful for caregivers who work long hours and can't attend open-house days or drop-off and pick-up times. These platforms are also useful for parents who speak a different language because messages sent through virtual platforms or emails can be translated.
Distribute Parent Surveys
Show parents you value their opinions by sending them surveys to fill out. Send a survey to them at the beginning of the year and again at the end of each semester or quarter. Include a combination of free-response and multiple-choice questions so that you can gather general feedback as well as specific opinions and suggestions.
When you receive feedback, make sure you incorporate it into your classroom as best you can, which will help parents feel included. Parent feedback can be insightful and beneficial to your classroom culture, and implementing it can help you improve your teaching. Parent surveys can also let you gauge what activities caregivers would like to help with and ways they would like to become more involved in the classroom.
Stay Organized With a Success by Design Planner
Learning strategies to increase parental involvement in schools is important because it allows teachers to effectively encourage caregiver engagement. Encouraging and nurturing parental involvement in the classroom can help parents feel more involved, but it will also give you, as the teacher, the support you need.
While you work to increase engagement in the classroom, don’t forget to stay organized with a Success by Design planner! It’s the ideal way to keep track of class events and activities as well as which parents are scheduled to help on which days. You can also invest in bulk student planner packages to enhance your students' learning.
- SBD, Inc.