There are several studies that have found that parental involvement plays a significant role in student success. As educators, you know this. But, how do you go about getting parents involved in their child’s learning? Our list of seven tips for parent involvement builds on Joyce Epstein’s six types of family involvement framework and evolves it for the 21st century student. Take a look!
Children need to know you and their parents are on the same team. When you set expectations with both students and parents at the beginning of the school year, you can create a partnership of open communication and build trust. A great way to do this is by building a classroom contract of expectations for both students and parents to sign and/or by having students create goals for their personal and educational growth. When everyone is on the same page, it builds a great foundation for a team approach going into a new school year.
Work smarter, not harder. Don’t overwhelm yourself with emails from parents asking when assignments are due, what their child’s grade in the class is, etc. Set up a class website where parents can easily access this information, and let them know this is an option when you are setting your classroom expectations. A classroom website is a great spot to post grading policies, helpful online resources, class schedules, projects, and assignments. They’re easy to set up with templated websites like Wix or Squarespace, and they allow you to be proactive for the entire school year in minutes.
Make sure that you reach out to parents on a regular basis, and make sure that parents know how to get ahold of you. If you schedule quarterly parent meetings, you’ll be able to give updates, connect, and manage interactions on your own schedule. Research shows that children do better when parents talk often with their teachers and become involved in their school. Share small wins on a weekly basis through automatic emails or progress folders that are to be signed by parents. This lets them to know how their child is progressing in class, and it is useful recordkeeping for parent/teacher conferences. Win-win!
The more involved parents are with their child’s school, the more involved they will be with their child’s learning. Work with the existing PTA to create opportunities for new parents to get involved, or go above and beyond the typical teacher outreach by hosting events for parents. Some great event ideas include a “technology night” where you discuss the online curriculum students are using in the classroom so that parents can gain a better understanding. Another popular idea is a workshop for parents on topics their children are learning so that they can better help with homework. This is also a great way to get feedback on times that work best to reach parents.
Ultimately, face-to-face meetings are a critical way to build rapport with parents, but virtual face time works just as well when in-person meetings are not an option. Being flexible is the best way to make sure that parents are making these meetings. In a technology-rich world, this can mean using something like FaceTime or Zoom when parents can’t be physically in your classroom for a one-on-one meeting. Allowing parent to know when you’re available and providing a variety of options and times can help parents not feel discouraged when schedules don’t line up.
Whether it’s on your website, in your student expectations contract, or in your quarterly meeting invitation—you should have a parent resource center where parents can turn when they have urgent questions. A parent resource is a great way to ensure that you don’t have to be available 24/7. What should go in a parent resource center? Here are some of our suggestions:
Throughout the year, you get busy, and sometimes, updates about struggling students take precedent over the students who are on track in your classes. But, be sure to do your best to make contact with all of the parents in your class. This will help you stay ahead before problems occur, and it can encourage positive feelings toward school when you report good news about student achievements to parents. Stick to your goals, stick to your expectations, and keep communication flowing.
Looking for more tips on how you can increase parent involvement in your classroom this year? Check out our quick video that expands on these ideas and more here! And don't forget to check out Edmentum's Getting Started Family Resources page to help families in your district get up and running with thier Edmentum programs.
This post was originally published in September 2019 and has been updated.