Parents are an essential component to a successful educational program. Often overwhelmed by work and family needs, their "free time" is also in demand. So how can schools do more to encourage busy parents to get more involved in their children's school activities? Find out on the Internet! Included: Ten online resources with information and advice to grow parent involvement in your school!
"My teaching team attempts to convince parents that their children's education is a committed partnership between home and school," Max W. Fischer, told Education World. "From the first-week-of-school's parent orientation to the end of the year, we stress to parents that although we, the faculty, may be academic specialists, the parents are the ultimate authority on their individual sons and daughters."
During the third week of school, Fischer, a seventh-grade social studies teacher, and his colleagues at Edgewood Middle School in Wooster, Ohio, call the parents of their students. The teachers ask the parents how they think their children are adjusting to a middle school setting, the students' first secondary school experience.
"For the majority of parents, the phone call in mid-September to reintroduce ourselves and field concerns or comments about their son's or daughter's initial weeks in middle school sends a powerful message that our team is open to parents, wants parental input, and will strive to involve parents in the educational process," says Fischer. "This phone call is a critical link in our overall strategy of proving to parents that they are welcomed in our building."
One parent stated after receiving a call from Fischer, "This is quite a surprise. It's like a business trying to win my patronage. I'm not used to this from a school."
TEN RESOURCES FOR ENCOURAGING PARENT INVOLVEMENT
Educators who want to increase the presence of parents in their schools need not rely exclusively on the telephone -- they may turn to the Net! The following ten resources provide guidance and new perspective along with some wonderful ideas to put into practice today.
Public Agenda surveyed teachers and parents to learn more about their beliefs about the role of parents in the public school. Homework was found to be a critical issue. In Playing Their Parts, you can read the results of the survey and see how parents and teachers view the dreaded homework!
The National Parent Information Network offers a Virtual Library of documents that are considered "parenting resources." Among the papers are many of interest to educators, including The Five Types of Parental Involvement.
By asking parents to assess their involvement in their children's learning and inviting them to renew their commitment to it, Project Appleseed seeks to promote collaboration between school and home. The program's checklist can help you determine the health of your current parent partnership.
Want to know what the parents of children in your school really think of their relationship with it? Create an online survey that parents can respond to with Questionnaire Server. This resource includes sample questionnaires for all grade levels.
In Partnerships, the Laboratory for Student Success provides guidelines for parents and teachers who want to create a positive working partnership. Guides for teachers address creating positive communication, sharing report cards, and building healthy homework habits. Learn how teachers might frame a fabulous first conference!
If you want to hold an informational event for parents that focuses on curriculum standards and don't know where to begin, Engaging Parents (archived copy) can help. Download materials for a back-to-school night, a scavenger hunt, an open house, a standards forum, or a literacy fair.
The North Central Regional Educational Laboratory discusses the critical issues of parents' working with schools through clear and concise articles in Parent and Family Involvement. Visit this resource to read more about building and supporting parent partnerships and creating a welcoming school climate. You will even discover how to set up a "parent center" in your school.
Education World Archive: Parent Involvement
Parent involvement in schools is much more than parent conferences and PTOs... In the resources below, learn about practical ways in which schools are involving parents. Read about parent involvement strategies that are working for others -- and that could work for you.
A Virtual Backpack for Parents
This site contains materials that will help parents stay informed and involved in their children's academic lives, including The Keys to Literacy, an explanation of good reading instruction.
Lessons of Parent and Family Involvement in the Middle Grades
Parent involvement seems to wane as students become older and enter secondary schools. The authors of this study developed eight lessons of parent, family, and community involvement and summarized their implications for schools.
Article written by Cara Bafile
Copyright © 2010 Education World
Originally published 2001
Last updated 12/31/2009