True school reform will always begin with increased parental involvement in their child’s education. It has been proven time and time again that parents who invest time and place value on their child’s education will have children who are more successful in school. Naturally there are always exceptions, but teaching your child to value education will have a positive impact on their education.
School administrators and teachers are continuously frustrated in an age where parental involvement increasingly seems to be on the decline. Part of this frustration lays in the fact that society often places sole blame on the teachers, when in truth there is a natural handicap if parents are not doing their part. There is also no denying that each individual school is affected by parental involvement at varying levels. Schools with more parental involvement are almost always the higher performing schools when it comes to standardized testing.
The question is how do schools increase parental involvement? The reality is that you’re likely never going to have 100% parental involvement. However, there are strategies that you can implement to increase parental involvement significantly. Improving parental involvement in your school will make teachers’ jobs easier and improve student performance overall.
Increasing parental involvement begins with having the capacity to educate parents on the ins and outs of parental involvement. The sad reality is that many parents simply do not know how to be truly involved with their child’s education because their parents were not involved with their education. It is essential to have educational programs for parents that offer them tips and suggestions explaining how they can get involved. These programs must also focus on the benefits of increased involvement. Getting parents to attend these trainings can be challenging, but many parents will attend if you offer food, incentives, or door prizes.
There many more avenues available to communicate because of technology (email, text, social media, etc.) than what there were just a few years ago. Communicating with parents on a continual basis is a key ingredient to increasing parental involvement. If a parent isn’t going to take the time to keep track of their child, then the teacher should make every effort to inform those parents of their child’s progress. There is a chance that the parent will just ignore or tune these communications out, but more times than not the message will be received and their level of communication and involvement will improve. This is also a way to build trust with parents ultimately making a teacher’s job easier.
Many parents simply believe that they have no responsibilities in their child’s education. Instead, they believe that it is the sole responsibility of the school and of the teacher. Getting these parents to spend a little time in your classroom is a fantastic way to change their mindset on this. While this approach won’t work for everyone everywhere, it can be an effective tool to increase parental involvement in many cases.
The idea is that you recruit a parent who is minimally involved in their child’s education to come up and read a story to the class. You immediately invite them back again to lead something like an art activity or anything in which they are comfortable. Many parents will find that they enjoy this type of interaction and their children will love it, particularly those in early elementary school. Continue to involve that parent and give them more responsibility each time. Pretty soon they will find themselves valuing their child’s education more as they become more invested in the process themselves.
Open House/Game Night
Having periodic open house or game nights is an excellent way to get parents involved with their child’s education. Don’t expect everyone to attend, but make these events dynamic events that everyone enjoys and talks about. This will lead to increased interest and eventually greater participation. The key is to have meaningful learning activities that force parent and child to interact with each other throughout the night. Again offering food, incentives, and door prizes will create a bigger draw. These events take a lot of planning and effort to do them right, but they can be powerful tools for building relationships, learning, and increasing involvement.
Home activities can have some effect in increasing parental involvement. The idea is to send home activity packs periodically throughout the year that require the parents and child to sit down and do together. These activities should be short, engaging, and dynamic. They should be easy to conduct and contain all materials needed to complete the activity. Science activities are traditionally the best and easiest activities to send home. Unfortunately, you cannot expect all parents to complete the activities with their child, but you hope that the majority of them will.