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Parent Involvement

Be sure to see more great ideas in our special Parent Involvement and Exceptional Events archives.

Cookbooks Whip Up Fun and Funds
In what could be described as true "kitchen magic," school organizations are cooking up a virtual feast of funds by gathering recipes and publishing them in the form of school cookbooks. Included: What makes a "hot seller" in the field of school cookbooks?

Health Fair Gives Shot in the Arm to Parent Involvement
In Ronceverte, West Virginia, one middle school's health and wellness fair features free glucose checks, blood pressure checks, and flu shots plus healthy snacks and fun activities. The fair brings in parents who have never before stepped through the school doors.

Schools Crayon Factory Offers Hands-On Economics Lessons
The challenge of teaching economics to second graders got easier at one Virginia school when a teacher created a crayon factory that allows students to learn first-hand about raw materials, producers, consumers, natural resources, and marketing.

Discount Card Fundraising Made Easy
Tired of the same old fundraising approaches? Discount card fundraisers are gaining in popularity. These fundraisers are a win-win for your entire community. Your school or organization can earn money while local businesses gain exposure and new customers.

Fundraising Q&A: Commonly Asked Questions
Do you have more questions than answers about current fundraising opportunities? Jenny Ann (her full name) has heard all the questions, and here she answers a few of the most common ones she gets from people responsible for raising money for school and community groups.

Students Experiment as Mad Scientists for a Day
Whats better than a hands-on science experiment? A school full of them! One Maryland elementary school holds a Mad Scientist Day so students and their parents can try all kinds of science activities. Included: Description of Mad Scientist Day projects.

Intro to Fundraising: You Need to Raise Money, Now What?
Your fundraising efforts can either be a source of frustration or a unity-building way to make much needed money for your group -- so it is important to make the right choices, plan ahead, set a timeline, and rally the troops. Included: Tips for fundraising success.

Principals Blog to Share and Archive School News
While traditional newsletters can be overlooked and lost in bottomless bookbags, blogs are timely, accessible, and fun. Principals who use them say blogs are simple to set up and easy to update. Included: Tips for beginners from experienced principal bloggers.

Summer Expo Connects Kids With Careers
In one Illinois community, an annual summer job fair puts high schoolers in touch with summer employment, volunteer, and enrichment opportunities. Companies, camps, and community groups present opportunities that can set students on the path to a career.

Distinctive Charity Shares Stache of Cash with Schools
They may not be commonly recognized as a philanthropic group, but in cities across the United States men are banding together to raise fuzz and then razing that fuzz as part of a unique charity -- Mustaches for Kids -- that generates money for kids in local schools.

Fun Nights Teach Parents How to Teach Kids
To increase parent involvement both in school and at home, one intermediate school launched a series of Fun Nights to familiarize parents with the curriculum and pass on instructional strategies. Included: Tips to help parents help children with schoolwork.

Project Tutor Helps Boise Students Stay on Target in Reading and Math
An inventory of practices in one school district revealed that many of its schools were deficient in the area of training for school volunteers. Project Tutor was created to prepare community volunteers to work in the neediest schools and support reading and math instruction.

Principal Podcasts Get to the Point
Whether they launched their podcasts at the suggestion of a parent or the gentle prodding of a tech-loving staff member, principals who have tried podcasting repeat the same refrain -- it is easy, inexpensive, and effective. Included: Learn about the free podcasting tools.

Reaching Out to Parents Over Brown-Bag Lunches
Administrators at the school and district level are finding that inviting parents and community members to chat over brown-bag lunches gains them allies in the community and helps keep everyone informed. Included: Tips and topic ideas for brown-bag lunches.

Quilting Program Enriches the Fabric of School
Stories are a way to bring individuals in a community closer to each other. Lexington Park (Maryland) Elementary Schools Tellin Stories quilt project turned out to be much more than a needle-and-thread project; it turned into a community bonding experience.

Annual Day of Parent Appreciation
From early in the school year, parents in Philadelphia schools receive a clear message that they are appreciated. "Parent Appreciation Day" recognizes the contributions of families and shares information about services to help parents navigate through life.

VIP Families Honored for Involvement
Miami schools recognize their Very Involved Parents (VIPs) at an annual Family Involvement Festival. The district has made a special effort to define what a VIP is, to provide a standard that can be understood by the whole community and attainable by all parents.

Collaboration Dinners Bring Together Staff, Parents
After a family dinner at school, daycare is provided for the students, who work on homework while the adults convene in another room where they work in small groups to define the schools mission and create an action plan for ensuring success.

Money Fun: Investing in Families and Math Skills
Each year, students and families come to share a night of family fun that really "adds up." The night includes games such as "Crack the Safe," which requires students to guess the amount of candy in a safe, to "Roll Down the Debt," a dice game about place value.

"Extreme Read--Warrior Style" Connects Kids, Parents, Teachers Through Books
Students at one Florida middle schools read and discuss young adult novels as part of the school's annual "Extreme Read." The experience gives students a chance to see those around them -- peers, parents, and even the math teacher -- as fellow readers.

Enlisting the Community to Promote Achievement
Concerned that many urban students, especially African-American ones, were underachieving in school, Hugh B. Price made community involvement in local schools a focus of his tenure at the National Urban League as well as the subject of a book.

Schools Parent University Graduates Active Parents
Rather than lamenting the lack of parent involvement, one Florida elementary school principal decided to reach out to parents and offer them a degree in how to be active parents. The schools Parent University graduated its first class of eager volunteers.

"Pizza Party Patrol" Delivers Great Attendance
Students who get themselves to class each day at one Virginia elementary school may earn rewards that are both tangible and tasty. The schools pizza party patrol has motivated improved attendance in a school with the districts highest mobility rate.

Are You Smarter? Events Get Students Heads In the Game
Seeking new and motivating approaches to encourage students to excel on standardized tests, some administrators are borrowing the format of the program Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? to hold family game nights that prep students for those tests.

Student Spellers Earn Dollars for School
While looking for ways to raise money without spending money, a retired teacher heard about a spell-a-thon at another school and brought the idea to her former colleagues. Pledges students earned for correctly-spelled words yielded $15,000 for the school.

Cultivating, Running a Great Parent Volunteer Program
Former teacher Rhonda Joness book Turning Parents into Volunteers features more than 175 pages of step-by-step instructions, tips, ideas, and forms for creating a successful parent volunteer program. Recently, we had the opportunity to talk with Jones.

Project Reach Offers Outstretched Hand to Community
When teachers at one Georgia elementary school recognized the need for more frequent and meaningful dialogue with the parents of their students, they decided to take the conversation directly to the parents in the form of "Project Reach."

Cultural Experience Night
Students and families gathered at one Illinois elementary school to enjoy entertainment and cuisine from places like Africa, Ireland, the Philippines, and more. The goal of this event is to improve students relationships and interactions with each other.

Elementary, Middle Schoolers Glimpse the Future With Career Events
"Career day" and "career fair" events arent just for high school. Exposing kids of all ages to the world of work can broaden their perspectives. Included: Tips to creating a successful career day at the elementary or middle school levels.

Support from One Family to Another
When students' families feel the economic pinch, volunteers rush to the rescue! The Family Connection at Naperville (Illinois) North High School meets the needs of students and their families anonymously as it strives to set an example of service and selfless giving.

School Foundations Help Out in Hard Times
Many communities are coming to the aid of their schools by setting up educational foundations that channel private donations toward specific schools or programs. Included: Foundation directors share tips for getting a new foundation off the ground.

Night of Math Games Preps Families and Kids for Tests
"The most memorable moment from our testing kickoff and math game night event was the evening's icebreaker activity -- a round of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? that pitted a team of volunteer parents against a group of students"

Schools 100 Mile Club Offers Exercise, Focus
With student fitness levels dropping and recess scuffles escalating, one school started a 100 Mile Club to improve student fitness and focus, and to provide some structure at recess. Students walk at least a half-mile daily to meet the goal of completing 100 miles.

Passport to the World
Students in Chaska, Minnesota, explore countries and cultures within their school walls. Each student wears a "passport" that identifies the different countries s/he will "visit." To maintain interest, all sessions include at least one hands-on activity.

"Sharing the Dream": A Grant Competition Links Schools And Communities
Do you find it difficult to maintain a strong and healthy bond between your school and the community? This is just what the National Association of Elementary School Principals hopes to foster with its "Sharing the Dream" grant competition.

School Makes "Community Read" Its Own
A local librarys community reading program has given rise to a month-long family reading program at Meadow Glens Elementary School in Naperville, Illinois. The program, which is focused on family literacy, has been a big success.

GoodSearch: Fundraising Through
Internet Searching

You may be surprised to learn of a program that requires little effort and capitalizes on something everyone in your school community is already doing -- searching the Internet. GoodSearch, a search engine powered by Yahoo!, donates revenue to participating schools.

Reading and Math "Carnival" Equals Low-Stress Test Prep
A Hampton, Virginia, school prepares elementary students for standardized tests with "Reading and Math Mania." It is the most well-attended event of the year, and it helps staff get to know families by connecting with them in an open and lively setting.

Hispanic Families Hear and Are Heard
As the Hispanic population increased, parent participation did not. So one elementary school reached out to Hispanic parents to learn what they needed. The result is increased participation, higher achievement, and an unbreakable bond between school and home.

"White Elephant Bingo" Is Jumbo-Sized Fun
At an Illinois elementary school, bingo provides an evening of fun that is educational and virtually free.

Bidding for Dollars: Online Auctions Help Schools Earn Cash
As budgets stretch to the breaking point, public schools are discovering the powerful fundraising possibilities of the auction with a technological twist. The flexibility, convenience, and popularity of online auctions enable schools to tap a limitless base of supporters.

"Cracking Open" Kids' Brains
A guest speaker introduced Virginia parents to the latest in brain research and, most important, how it applies to parenting. The program was not clinical. Everyday examples showed parents how they could use the information to be better parents and help children learn.

Practical Advice for Coping With Difficult Kids, Parents
Weve all experienced them -- the student or parent who not only pushes your buttons but leans on them until relief seems impossible. Building relationships with students and keeping yourself calm when issues arise can mean fewer conflicts.

"SMART" Night Builds Interest in Science, Math, and Relevant Technology
One South Carolina designed a Science, Math and Relevant Technology (SMART) Night to build community by bringing parents, students, teachers, and others together for food and activities. The evening promotes a love of science, math, and technology.

Middle Schoolers Apply Their "Talents" to Musical Production
A large annual musical production gives middle schoolers in Fresno a chance to shine.

Student-Led Conferences Open
Parent-Child Dialogue

Kids take the lead in academic show-and-tell sessions with parents, caregivers.

Program Hauls in Huge Catch of Reading
"Hooked on Books" combines fish, science, and friendly competition to get kids reading.

Volunteers Become "Math Mates" for Elementary Students
Students’ math skills, test scores, and confidence grow with help from their “Math Mates.”

Young Scientists See and Believe
An evening of science projects, demonstrations, and more encourages kids to view themselves as scientists-in-training.

Yearbooks Capture Elementary, Middle School Memories
The yearbook is a classic souvenir of high school days, but today elementary and middle schools are getting into the act. Preserving the priceless moments and toothless smiles of young children is the goal of hardworking advisors, parents, and students.

School "Mates"
Sailors from the USS San Jacinto find more than one way to befriend elementary school.

Summer Reading
Santa interrupts his summer vacation to bring books to Virginia Beach students.

School "Snapshots"
One-page summaries provide key information for new students and their families.

Principals Share Lessons Learned About Communicating With Parents, Others
Seldom does a day go by when most school leaders don’t learn something new about the importance of communication. Here, our team of experienced “Principal Files” principals share their thoughts and tips about best practices in communication.

Ten Ideas for a Successful Take
Your Family to School Week

PTA Take Your Family to School Week is just one of the PTA programs revitalizing parent involvement in education. This special week in February is easy to implement too, with these ten ideas and the PTAs online guide and poster.

Community Scavenger Hunt Teaches Research Skills, Much More
When armies of students descend on local libraries, it has to be time for the State of Jefferson Scavenger Hunt. The three-day event challenges kids to track down answers to a series of questions. The results include improved research skills, priceless memories.

Families Share the Reading Experience, Bolster Reading Skills
Reading specialists at one Illinois school approached their parent group and proposed a new project. A "parent-child book discussion group," which would strengthen family connections through a shared reading experience, was a bestseller!

Study Circles Help Gather Input, Solve Problems
Many schools and communities use study circles to ensure that diverse perspectives are represented as they address issues such as the achievement gap, redistricting, building projects, racism, and bullying. Included: Tips for starting a study circle.

One Book, One School, One Community:
A Singular Reading Experience

Driven by the desire to enhance literacy skills and bring together generations, these three schools organized One Book community reading activities. Is this something your school might do? Included: Tips for choosing the right literary selection for a community read.

Brushing Up on Parenting Skills
Workshops for parents were a new concept at one Wisconsin elementary school. However, with several workshops under their belts, organizers say "workshops are a wonderful way not only to learn, but to help bring the school community closer together."

Parenting Workshops
When a significant number of parents approached Principal Becky Ford about their children's incorrigible behavior, Ford knew something had to be done. She worked with her district's parent liaison to design parent support workshops for those parents.

Year-Long Literacy
Involving families in literacy-building activities is a year-long endeavor one Maryland middle school. When staff members discovered that their students' reading scores weren't improving as hoped, they took action to motivate the students to read and to get parents involved.

Family Folders
Parents at Riverview Specialty School for Math & Environmental Science are invited to a new parent information night in the spring before their children attend. They are given a valuable tool to help them adjust to the new location and programs -- a family support folder.

Beginning of School Year Cookout
What began as a segue from a traditional school calendar to a year-round schedule at one school has become a signature event of the school year. The "beginning of the school year cookout" brings together staff members, students, and parents.

These Shoes Were Made for Running/Walking
A runner for many years, Principal Kim Pavlovich has created a run/walk program that each week attracts teachers, parents, and more than half the student body to the school track. Included: Tips for starting this simple and inexpensive program in your school.

Teachers, Parents, Kids Bond Over Books
Inviting parents to participate in a book discussion group with teachers has led to better relationships between teachers and parents and a deeper understanding of current education and child-rearing issues. Included: Tips for starting a group at your school.

Adult "Buddies" Boost Confidence, Skills
Barnum Buddies provide one-on-one attention to help preschoolers overcome hurdles.

Even Little Makeovers Make a Big Difference
Many schools would benefit from an extreme makeover but cant afford one, let alone a coat of paint. Some community volunteers are taking on the job of making over rooms and teacher lounges, surprising and delighting school staff.

Lunch and Learning for Parents and Students
Lunch and Learn sessions familiarize parents with teaching techniques they can use at home. Parents are often critical of kids reading and spelling skills, said one teacher. We encourage them to be positive and enjoy the journey along with their children.

Math Games Encourage Practice at Home
One Maryland school holds an evening of make-and-take games to support math review.

Math Makes More Sense in Many Languages
A Seattle school uses many languages to teach parents how to support math instruction at home.

Pete Hall: Why 100 Matters
According to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, all students -- thats 100 percent of enrolled students -- will test proficient by the 2013-2014 school year. Do you know what 100 percent really means? One goal-oriented school in Washington State does!

Dealing With Angry Parents
Education Worlds Principal Files team always provides practical tips that help out school leaders in sticky situations. In this article, they tackle the topic of angry parents. Included: Tips for calming upset parents and solving problems.

Chess Club Teaches Thinking Skills, Sportsmanship
After-school chess club is thinking at its best!

"Jobs" for Community Improve Skills
Students build reading and math skills while taking part in community projects.

WatchDOGS Unleashed on Schools
WATCH D.O.G.S. is a K12 program that makes it easy for father figures to spend meaningful time in a school setting. The program is overseen by a Top Dog volunteer dad who partners with the school administrator to identify opportunities for WatchDOGS dads.

"Reading Buddies" Pair Up for Literacy
Future teachers and elementary students read and correspond to improve skills.

Online Grades Provide Access and Accountability
In many schools, teachers use online grading systems to keep parents (and kids) informed. Administrators say the improved communication makes students more accountable for their work and eliminates unwelcome "surprises" on report cards.

Demonstration Puts More Meat into Essays
Students and parents construct burgers to build better essays!

Parent Workshops Overcome Language Barriers
Bilingual workshops help parents support their children's education.

Weekly Folders Deliver News from School to Home
Need an easy and inexpensive way to reach parents with important news from your school? Many elementary and middle schools package all communication and student work into a "weekly folder" that is sent home on the same day each week.

Saving Kids from Stress
Facing fierce competition to get into top colleges, many students are compromising their health and values to get ahead. Experts are even seeing stress levels increase at the elementary school level. Some educators are working to reduce the pressures on students.

"FACT Nights" Bring Families Together
Parents and kids connect during evenings of reading and math activities.

"Recovery Rooms" Put Disruptive Students on Road to Recovery
Are disruptive students inhibiting learning in your school? If so, the answer may be creating a place for them to refocus and regroup -- a "recovery room." With guidance, students can reflect on their mistakes and find ways to improve.

Put "Punch" Into Your Parent Handbook
Is it time to take a fresh look at your school's parent handbook? How can your school get more out of this essential resource for parents? Education World takes a look at ten handbooks from across the grades and shares what each one does especially well.

School-Wide Mail Delivery System Teaches Kids Letter-Writing, Responsibility
In this IM, e-mail age, many children haven't experienced the excitement of getting a hand-written letter. One popular program, though, allows students to write letters and work in an in-school post office. Included: See how it works, try it in your school!

Got Three Hours? A School Needs You
Who could say no to giving three hours to their child's school over nine months? That's what the founders of the parent volunteer program Three for Me reasoned -- and they discovered once parents got a taste of volunteering, they were eager to keep coming back.

Schools Where Wellness Is a Way of Life
The need for students to eat more healthful foods and get more exercise is getting a lot of attention in schools these days, but some school leaders are going a step further, developing wellness policies and health alliances with their communities.

More Tips for Great Newsletters
Surveys say newsletters are the second most important source of information about your school. George Pawlas offers timely reminders about what to include in the newsletters you produce during the second semester. Included: "Fifteen Tips for Writing Right."

Schools Offering Service With A Smile
Greetings, smiles, and eye contact may be standard customer-service training in the retail industry, but now it is moving into schools as well. Some districts are training all staff members, including administrators and bus drivers, to be more customer-friendly.

Visitation Day: Parents "Walk in the Shoes" of Students
Tight-lipped kids often keep their parents in the dark about school activities. How can schools bring them out of the cold? Invite them in! "Parent Visitation Days" are easy to organize and a great way to get parents in touch with their kids' school life.

BRAVO Principals... Communicate Effectively
Author and EdWorld columnist Sandra Harris says that BRAVO principals follow three principles of effective communication. They are truthful, yet tactful; available; and active listeners. Included: Examples of those three principles in action during the school day.

Does Your School's Atmosphere Shout "Welcome!"?
Does your school's atmosphere shout "Welcome!" to parents, students, and staff? Our "Principal Files" team shares how they've created welcoming atmospheres in their schools. Most of their ideas are easy to duplicate. Learn from their ideas, share your own.

Newsletters: An Essential Tool for Every Principal
George Pawlas learned early in his years as a principal that regular, informative communication from his office helped build support for his school. That's when he discovered the true value of parent newsletters. Included: Newsletter do's and don'ts.

Parent Planning for Parent Involvement
Too often administrators view parent involvement programs as neglected gardens. If by chance they grow and bear fruit, terrific. If they don't, it can't be helped. But a national institute says that, with some planning, all schools can grow parent involvement programs.

Schools Recruit, Recognize Contributions of Volunteers
Is your school crawling with volunteers? Or are you looking for ways to recruit more volunteers? In this article, our "Principal Files" principals talk about the benefits of volunteers and offer tips for recruiting them and recognizing their contributions.

Bring "Order" to the Cafeteria
Is your school's cafeteria a place where you love to spend time, or is it a nightmare come to life? How can you make the lunchroom a more "orderly" place? Administrators share their best tips for improving atmosphere, behavior, and manners in the lunchroom.

Getting the Most Out of Parent-Teacher Conferences
Parent-teacher conferences are an important part of any school's communication plan. And principals are in a position to help ensure that the first conference of the year sets a tone for future communication. Included: Tips for prepping parents and teachers ahead of time.

Is Your Parent Newsletter the Best It Can Be?
Education World's "Principal Files" principals agree that parent newsletters should be an essential part of every school leader's communication plan. They offer encouragement, ideas, and advice for those who want to start a newsletter or improve their current one.

Schools Strive for Waste-Free Lunches
Schools are discovering the benefits of cutting down on the waste they produce, particularly in the lunchroom. In addition to monetary benefits, the schools are producing stewards of the Earth. Included: Simple ways to reduce waste in the lunchroom.

Community Evaluates Superintendent Online
Opening oneself up to an evaluation by the community takes some nerve, but Nashville's superintendent Dr. Pedro Garcia was up for it. The responses are leading to changes in how he communicates with the community. Included: The online evaluation form.

Parents Try High-Stakes Tests
One Mississippi middle school is offering parents the chance to answer questions from its state tests, to help them understand what their children face. Included: Description of a test information night for parents.

Enforcing Dress Codes a Continuous Challenge
Dress codes are hard to create -- and harder to enforce -- but with enough parent and student involvement at the beginning, and consistent enforcement once they are in place, educators at three schools report that dress codes can work.

Outreach Through the Airwaves: Schools Bring Message Home with Television
Some districts are using cable TV to reach out to their communities. These "education stations" keep citizens informed and show the lighter, "human" side of faculty and administration. Included: Successful programming from two districts.

Easy Ways to Market Your Schools
School administrators often are so busy or so cautious that they don't get to know their local media. But developing good public relations, as well as a solid plan for marketing a school district, are easy to do and can pay big dividends.

Parent University: Adults Hone Skills for Stronger Kids and Communities
Some schools are offering workshops and seminars through what is termed "Parent University" to help parents better understand and deal with kids. Parents are going "back to school" -- sometimes with their children -- as an investment in them and the community.

Fifteen More Ideas for Fundraising Fun
Last month we offered "Fifteen Ideas for Fundraising Fun" in your school. This month we offer 15 more new ideas to raise money to support school programs. Included: Rock-a-Thon, Turkey Legs Contest, Goat Insurance, Lip Sync Contest

Classified Web Page Raises Money for Schools
A bake and yard sale veteran, Falmouth, Maine, resident Carolyn Gillis decided to take school fundraising to a higher level. She founded, Classroom Classifieds, a free Web site that generates money for schools from items that community members sell.

Fifteen Ideas for Fundraising Fun
Need to raise money to fund a school trip, buy new uniforms, or for needed classroom supplies? Education World offers 15 fun ideas for school fundraising. Included: Idol competition, Penny Challenge, poster sale, Anti-Dance, more.

Film A Day in the Life Eases Sixth Graders' Fears
Even after school tours and orientation programs, many students still worry about the transition from elementary to middle school. A student-made film acknowledges those fears and reassures new students that middle school is not so scary.

A Community Pitches In to Repair its Schools
A lack of maintenance and funding had taken a toll on Baltimore, Maryland's schools. A call to the community for help this summer, though, yielded donations and thousands of volunteers who completed hundreds of thousands of dollars of work -- and are still at it.

Math Night by the Numbers
Is it time for a "Math Night" at your school? Math Night gets students excited about math, familiarizes parents with the math curriculum, and encourages families to continue the fun of math at home!

The ABC List: A Public Relations Tool That's as Simple as A-B-C
Have you been looking for a quick and easy way to promote your school's finest qualities and its best ways for the community to get involved? South Carolina principal Ann Mohr has a great idea for you, and it all begins with the alphabet!

How Can Parents Tell If Teachers Are Doing a Good Job?
How can parents tell if their child's teacher is doing a good job? Sometimes parents' ideas are misinformed. Ed World's "Principal Files" team members offer their perspective. Included: Look at the work students bring home and "the hard sell."

Dealing With Difficult Parents
In Dealing With Difficult Parents, Doug Fiore and Todd Whitaker offer strategies and techniques that make it easier to deal with seemingly difficult parents and with the difficult situations in which they find themselves. Included: Doug Fiore answers our questions.

Mobilize for Education September 22
A coalition of organizations, calling itself the National Mobilization for Great Public Schools, is asking people to meet at house parties September 22 to discuss education concerns and possible solutions.

Rounding Up Pre-K Kids, Parents
Inviting parents and pre-kindergartners to meet teachers and see their schools six months before school opens can noticeably reduce first-day jitters -- for everyone. Called kindergarten round-ups, these events also let teachers meet their incoming charges.

Morning Sing: School's Weekly Tradition Is Music to the Ears
What has "risk takers" performing on stage, teachers reading and singing to the entire school, and students still talking about events from elementary school years later? It's Lake Street School's "Morning Sing," a weekly event that brings together the entire school.

PR Ideas for PRincipals
Is it any coincidence that the word principal begins with the letters PR? Many principals overlook the importance of strong public relations, but these principals recognize the important role PR can play in creating a "buzz" about their schools.

No More Lost Lunch Money
Probably every day in every classroom, a teacher hears, "I lost/forgot/spent my lunch money," sparking phone calls home, IOUs, or snack food searches. Pre-paid lunch programs can end the problems of missing money and save parent and teacher time.

Walking School Bus Paves Way to Healthier Kids
A new program eases traffic congestion around schools while putting more exercise into students' days. Perhaps your school should be the next stop for the "walking school bus," a program in which groups of children are led to and from school by adult volunteers.

Voice of Experience: Most Direct Route to Parents Is an E-Line
Educator Max Fischer has been doing a little independent research on the effectiveness of phone calls, written progress reports, and e-mail in raising student achievement. Which communication method do you think he and his teaching teammates found to be most effective?

How I Handled... Keeping Control in Crowded Hallways and Lunchrooms
Maintaining control as students congregate and socialize in crowded areas can present a problem; solving the problem offers schools an opportunity to involve parents and the larger community, and to improve perceptions of what goes on in those schools.

Home Visits Forge School, Family Links
Getting to better know students and their families can make parents powerful advocates in their children's education. Home visits can give teachers the insight they need to help all students succeed.

How I Handled... Keeping Control in Crowded Hallways and Lunchrooms
Maintaining control as students congregate and socialize in crowded areas can present a problem; solving the problem offers schools an opportunity to involve the larger community -- including parents -- and to improve perceptions of what goes on in those schools.

To Close or Not to Close: A Superintendent's Winter Worry
How deep is the snow? How fast is it falling? Have their been any accidents? What is the wind chill? That is just some of the information that administrators process on cold or snowy winter mornings as they decide whether or not to close schools. It's not always easy.

Math Night by the Numbers
Is it time for a "Math Night" at your school? Math Nights get students excited about math, familiarize parents with the math curriculum, and encourage families to continue the fun of math at home. Included: Advice from organizers of Math Nights.

Family Reading Nights Create Avid Readers
For administrators looking to increase student reading at school and at home and improve parent involvement, family reading nights have proven successful for many schools. Included: Practical suggestions for initiating a family reading night program.

A "Signature" Event: The Autograph Auction as a School Fundraiser
When some students' need for shoes was discussed at a school meeting, Marty Kelsey saw a potential event that would be entertaining, require little investment, and, hopefully, raise ample funds -- the Celebrity Autograph and Shoe Auction!

Teachers Start Report Card Revolution
Some teachers have taken it upon themselves to rework their report cards. Two teachers talk with Education World about the systems they developed and the benefits to students and parents of their improved grade-reporting systems. Tips included.

What Will Your School's Next Report Card Look Like?
Report cards are yet another area of education affected by the standards movement. With more things to teach, assess, and track, teachers need more precise ways of assessing students than A to F.

More Principals E-Mailing Parents
Instead of picking up the phone to call parents, more principals are tapping on their computer keyboards. Increasingly, principals are finding that e-mail is the best way to communicate -- for them and for parents.

Party! A Year of Special School Events
Getting parents involved is no easy task. But Education World's "Principal Files" team offers some great ideas for school-wide events that are sure to draw parents in large numbers. Included: More than 30 events to add to your school calendar!

Student-Led Conferences Successful in Elementary, Middle Grades
As student-led conferences grow in popularity, educators are finding ways to improve their flow and productivity. Preparing students and parents for what's involved and practicing before "going live" can help. Included: Tips from K-8 teachers.

Principal Goes Door to Door With Back-to-School Message
Tired of low student turnouts on the first few days of school, Hartford, Connecticut, principal Dr. Robert E. Morris decided to remind parents about the opening of school. In person. Staff and community members joined Morris walking door-to-door.

A Smooth Transition Can Mean a Smooth Year
With researchers finding that successful transition programs can mean more successful students, sending and receiving schools are working harder and more cooperatively to help students more easily make the passage from one school to the next.

Schools Find Many Ways to Say "Welcome Back"
Will open house be before school opens or sometime after students arrive? How about holding an ice cream social? A scavenger hunt for new students? A meet-the-principal lunch? Included: Our P-Files team shares ideas for welcoming students.

It's About Time (and Sleep): Making the Case for Starting School Later
High school administrators who have pushed back their schools' starting times to coincide with adolescent sleep cycles report fewer discipline problems, less tardiness, and happier and more alert students.

Make Graduation Day a Special Day Across the Grades
Whether you call it Graduation Day, Move-Up or Step-Up Day, or Recognition or Promotion Day, the day you set aside to honor your school's "senior" class can be a special one with these ideas from Education World's "Principal Files" team.

Principals Share Lessons Learned: Dealing With Student Discipline, Parent Involvement
Members of Education World's "Principal Files" team have turned mistakes they've made into valuable lessons that they are willing to share with you. Included: Lessons learned about student discipline, involving parents, and school poli-tricks!

Beyond the Bake Sale: A Guide to Phenomenal Fund-Raising
Looking to marshal your parent volunteers into an effective fund-raising team? Jean C. Joachims book, Beyond the Bake Sale, offers a manual for principals. Included: Advice on launching and maintaining effective fund-raising efforts.

Learning and Living the First Amendment
Does your schools involvement with the First Amendment consist of one or two civics lessons a year? Find out how you can use your school as a mini democracy lab, applying the First Amendments five freedoms to school governance and everyday issues.

Voice of Experience: The Power of Written Praise
Being roused from a sound sleep by a parent can be a rude awakening. But in one case it got educator Max Fischer reflecting about the power of written praise to raise student achievement. Included: Six reasons to put praise for students in writing!

Principals Share Parent Involvement Ideas
Principals share more than 30 practical ideas for including parents across the grades!

High Notes, Hayrides, and Hot Dogs: Making Open House a Hit!
Ideas to help administrators and teachers make open house night more enjoyable and effective.

A Dozen Activities to Promote Parent Involvement!
Many parents say they feel unwelcome or uncomfortable in their children's schools. Included: A dozen activities to promote parental involvement and ten tips for involved parents.

Open House: When First Impressions Matter
Good first impressions make a difference, and the first open house of the school year gives administrators and teachers a chance to gain parents' support. Included: Ideas to help make your open house a success.

Increase Parent Involvement With First Day of School Activities
Read about how schools across the nation -- in urban, rural, and suburban areas -- are breaking down barriers by making the first day of school an exciting holiday with special activities that include everyone.

Parents Step Into Students' Sneakers for a Day!
Here's one school's approach to increasing parents' involvement in their students' education: Send Mom and Dad back to school! Included: Kids and parents share their thoughts about spending Parents Day together.

Middle School Helps Parents With Resource Center
A parent resource center in a Connecticut middle school helps parents understand their middle-school-age youngsters. Included: Tips for starting a parent center in your school!

Parent- and Community-Involvement Strategies That Work
From an individual student's notebook to community-outreach programs, here are five approaches to parental and community involvement that work. Plus: Links to dozens of online resources!

Organize a "Literature Day" (and Night!) at Your School
Oranize a Literature Day for students. Then do the whole thing over again at night -- so families can be included! Plus: Activity ideas and tips for organizing your own event.

Back-to-School Letters and Survival Kits Build Communication
Some schools provide "survival kits" to help students weather the first few days of school. Some even welcome teachers with "survival kits" of their own! Included: Examples of kits for students and teachers.

Student-Led Conferences Hold Kids Accountable
Student-led conferences can actively engage students in their learning process and increase parent attendance at conferences. Included: Highlights of research about student-led conferences.

Beyond the Bake Sale: Parents Can Make the Difference in Countless Ways
Kevin Walker, the founder of Project Appleseed, has created a list of 37 different ways parents can help. Included: The Project Appleseed Parental Involvement Pledge.

'The Parent Trap' -- Luring Elusive Parents to School
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.

School District's TV Talk Show Increases Parent Involvement
In the Houston, the school district airs a live interactive talk show in which parents participate.

Teacher Visits Hit Home
Home visitations by teachers get parents involved in their child's education -- and they let parents and children know how much teachers care. Included: Tips for starting a program.

Parents Tune In to School Radio
SchoolCast FM helps schools solve the communications-with-parents problem. The small FM radio station provides everything a school needs to get daily messages on the air and requires no FCC license.

Parental Involvement Is as Easy as PIE! A special teacher-created program makes parents true partners in their children's education.

Home-Grown Students: Program Bridges Gap Between School and Home
A program in Sacramento, California, trains teachers in the art of home visitation.

Fathers in Schools: How Dads Make a Difference Education World offers ways to help fathers connect with schools. Included: Books for dads and kids to read together!

Posting Students' Grades Online Keeps Parents in Touch and Kids on Their Toes! Education World talks with K-12 teachers who are posting students grades online. Included: Online resources and software you can use to post your own grades online.

Bringing Families and Schools Together-- FAST!
The Families and Schools Together (FAST) program is recognized as one of the most effective parent-involvement programs in the country.