With the world of today, parents are finding it increasingly more difficult to connect with the school community and classroom teachers. One would think that with the increased usage of technology, parents would feel more connected vs. less. Although some parents may receive upwards of 3-5 emails per week from their student’s teacher–others feel left in the dark in regards to how their child is faring. Obviously, there are significant differences in parent communication when you look across the span of different age groups (elementary, middle and secondary)–with a notable drop in parent involvement as students draw nearer to graduation. So, what is the answer? To determine the answer, we first must identify the end goal.
Is it to have more parents present in the building (PAC, events, etc.)?
Is it to have parents feel more involved, nay, BE more involved in daily classroom learning (via home checks, emails, etc.)?
I would argue that both goals are important, at all levels of education. There are certainly more opportunities at the younger grades for parents to be involved than at the secondary level; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is impossible. Taking the time to invite parents to interact with the school is the first step in creating bridges between classroom and home; however, inviting multiple times is often required for parents who are busy and have limited options for school participation.
Three key ways to encourage parent involvement:
- Keep them informed. How can a parent be involved if they are not informed of what is happening around school? If a child isn’t overly forthcoming with school-related news, parents should have another access point for important dates, going-ons, etc. For some schools, a weekly newsletter or blog has been useful for keeping parents “in the loop,” especially when items such as report cards, field trips or assemblies is concerned.
- Offer multiple opportunities to get them in the building. While parent-teacher interviews are a standard way for parents to be included in student learning, there are many other avenues to have parents visit a school, even a secondary school! First, hold events at times that are typically available for working parents, such as open house evenings, performances, etc. Second, offer more than the typical events that parent attend (sports, theatre, band), such as Fine Art/Applied Skill open houses, Social Studies project presentations or family-friendly language plays are just a few suggestions!
- Keep inviting them. If turn out is lower than expected, keep inviting parents. If they can’t attend the first event, it doesn’t mean they won’t or can’t attend the next. Making sure parents really know schools want them to be a part of their child’s education is vital to seeing more participation and presence at the school.
Overall, having parents feel included in their child’s education will lead to them being more involved, more invested and more likely to encourage their student to be more engaged with their learning. School community should be a symbiotic triad between staff, students and parents. All three working together leads to better education for students, and that is of course, what we are here for.