“Family-Friendly”: 25 Ways to Parent Involvement Success


Well, another school year is quickly coming to a close for K12 educators, and the planning process for the next academic school year has begun. Administrators and school staff areUS DOE reflecting on which strategies, practices and programs worked and what can be improved. 21st Century community schools recognize the importance of family engagement and are partnering with parents to maximize achievement of students at school. Also acknowledging the barriers and challenges to parent involvement,  we are called upon to be creative, innovative and culturally responsive in our outreach efforts.

 

Well, here are parent involvement ideas, strategies and tips to encourage family engagement in the school community.  Some are basic evidence-based ‘best’ practices and then some are quite novel. Either way, they all will work to solidify the family-school community partnership and are worth a try!

 

  1. Establish contact with parents early in the year, preferably before the first day of class.
  2. Insist that teachers do not wait until it’s too late to tell parents about potentially serious problems. Early contact helps, is proactive and important for partnering and establishing alliances .
  3. Ask teachers to make at least two positive phone calls, texts, or emails to parents each week. Parent communication is a cost-effective investment. So, even if there is a need for a dedicated line, it’s worth it.
  4. Focus on the strengths of families-they know their child better than anyone else. That’s right, get personal, and find ways to get this information to teachers and other school staff. Though you may see only risk factors, focus on identifying existing strengths-the protective factors. Every family, regardless of income, race, location, or family structure, possesses assets. Try starting from the positive-what they have, not what they lack.
  5. Learn how to deal with angry parents- separate the parent from the argument being made. Utilize active listening techniques. DON’T GET ANGRY. Look for areas of agreement. Tell them, “We both want your child to do well.” and be sincere. Find a “win-win” solution to address their concern and bring calm to the discussion. If a parent makes a suggestion about which you’re unsure, say” I’ll certainly keep that in mind.” And if necessary, find a temporary fix. Compromise is best, when in the best interest of the student.
  6. Survey parents to ascertain the reasons why they are not involved, .i.e. no time, don’t know what to do, don’t know it is important, don’t speak the language, lack of childcare…. Get the picture? When we identify barriers, if we have the capacity and authority, we can create action plans to eliminate them. By the way, if you want more parents to attend school meetings, make their children welcome by offering childcare.
  7. Be mindful that teachers are more reluctant to contact parents than the other way around. Solution: get parents and teachers together, just as people, in comfortable social situations to demystify roles and promote openness to communication.
  8. Use “key communicators” to control the ‘rumor mill’. Keep those to whom others turn to for school information well-informed, especially the 3 ‘B’s: Barber shops, Beauty shops, and Bodegas[neighborhood stores].
  9. Encourage teachers to assign homework that requires that students talk to someone at home.
  10. Try “refrigerator notes”. Ask students to take this note home and put it IN the refrigerator. That’ll surely get their parents’ attention!
  11. Breakfast sessions at school can draw busy parents like mad. Create a forum for the 3 ‘F’sFood, Family and Fun.
  12. Having problems with behavior and discipline in ? Try videotaping or recording classes. Showing the ‘live’ age to parents and children works wonders.
  13. Know the facts about the changing structure of single families it can broaden perspectives.
  14. Be mindful that parents are looking for a school where their children are likely to succeed-more than a school with the highest test scores. Show them that you care. Make sure that parents feel  welcomed and valued as PARTNERS in the school community.
  15. Have a ready reference list of materials helpful to parents as they cope with student problems, parenting, and the like. Better yet, have a lending library.
  16. Take parents’ pictures. Give them advance notice that they will have their pictures taken with their child. Who doesn’t like to be photographed…with their children? Surely this one will be a hit, and quite a different scene from the traditional “Picture Day” at school. This one’s for families, students and educators-all partners in education!
  17. Stress two-way communication between schools and parents. “One way” clearly isn’t communication.
  18. Don’t make judgments about parents’ lack of interest in their child’s education. You’ll probably be wrong. “Walk a mile in their shoes” and understand that what can look like apathy may be exhaustion, confusion or your immaculate perceptions(implicit bias).
  19. Schedule an all-day family or a Parent Academy with shorter workshops on topics such as building self-esteem, motivating children, encouraging reading, discipline, etc…You can test weekdays vs. weekends to see which best accommodates families’ schedules.

    The Growth Mindset's Power of YET!

    The Growth Mindset’s Power of YET!

  20. Help parents understand that effort is more important than ability, because with effort comes ability.
  21. Try sending home “resource bags” filled with games, videos, reading materials and instructions on specific activities they can do with their child at home. It helps address the resource and learning gaps. We will promote family involvement to support learning at home, build capacity, encourage parent-child bonding through learning activities, and communicate empathy to parents. It says to them “we understand!”.  Don’t assume and don’t take it for granted that everyone lives within the same ‘world’ as do you. Just provide access through the school’s generous consideration.
  22. Know your demographics and get to know the community, while allowing them to get to know you, too. Try to go out into the community, speak to people, and don’t worry about your safety. So what, your school is located in a so-called ‘bad’ area! That should not imply that everyone is ‘bad’, and even if it’s true, does that mean that the children in your classes are bad? [Think carefully before you respond.] The ‘bad’ people who may do you harm will not harm you at all. In fact, schools have been doing them more harm for too long. It’s the immaculate perceptions that harm us more than physical harm.
  23. Instead of parking your car as close to the school as possible, look for reasons to be seen and familiarize yourself with the neighborhood. In this case, purposefully park your car at least a block or two away from the school, and then take a walk!
  24. If we aren’t going to be a part of the solution, then we’re simply a part of the problem. We have enough problems already! Be solution-focused, culturally responsive, proactive, supportive, and family-friendly community schools.
  25. Finally, remember this: Nothing changes if nothing changes. Be the change you wish to see….we’re all KINFOLK-one global family anyway, right?

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