Matt Harrell , President and co-founder of MemberHub and Tech Chair on the board of the J.Y. Joyner Elementary PTA, recently wrote,
“While some parents are enthusiastic volunteers, how do you get those other parents on board? You know, the ones who are too busy or distracted to really dig in and get engaged with what’s happening at school and in their child’s academics? It’s a problem, and one you can’t afford to ignore. The bottom line is that involved parents lead to better outcomes for students.”
According to a 1998 research by Daniel J. Burke & Steven R. Hara, by executing a structured parent involvement programme at a Chicago elementary school, the researchers found that it improved student achievement in both vocabulary and reading. In another 2010 study, it was found that “children with highly involved parents had enhanced social functioning and fewer behavior problems.” Moreover, a study of middle school students in 2009, revealed that parental involvement was directly and “positively associated with achievement.” Harrell added “There’s no question that parent engagement should be a top priority at your school.”
Here are a few tips to get you started with parental involvement at your school....
Bring Parents In
It is believed that informed parents become engaged parents. On the other hand, when parents are not properly informed about the happenings at their kid's school, they usually do not participate whole-heartedly.
“If you need parent volunteers at your school, you've got make it easy for them to get the details of the volunteer opportunity: how to sign up to serve. If parents always know where to look to find the latest information on volunteer opportunities, then you've won half the battle right there. ” He added “Don’t forget to use all of the communication channels available to you: phone calls, texts, bulletin boards, social media, school website, U.S. mail, emails, webinars, school blog, posters, newsletters, etc. Sometimes parents will blow by (or blow off) one means of communication but be very reachable in another way.”
Make Parents Interact With Each Other
If you want to get parents engaged at your school, then you can start by improving communications among different parents themselves. This will help to build a feel of community and encourage them to support each other.
According to Matt Harrell ,
“The key here is making sure parents are in the communication circles they want or need to be a part of. If parents start getting too many messages that aren’t pertinent to them, they will begin to ignore the communications. So make the effort to encourage parents to self-select the groups they most want to be involved with. .... Also, don’t forget that an easily accessible, fully updated school directory is vital.”
Find Out What Parents Think
Does your school have any means of acquiring feedback from parents on a consistent and scheduled basis? Whether you use a yearly form through mail, or an email survey or even semi-annual town meetings, it is important that you ask parents what they think about the progress in school.
Harrell wrote in a recent article,
“You can’t always implement every change parents suggest but you do need to consider what they say and, even more importantly, sincerely thank them for their feedback. Clearly the most important aspect is that the school is listening to them and parents feel heard. ”
Make It fun
In a school, various types of important activities are undertaken regularly, including teaching, interpersonal development, professional growth, infrastructural development, etc. This is why it is imperative you make an effort to make the process as fun as possible. You can either conduct a fundraiser, an annual family cookout at the school to get both the parents and students engaged with the same level of enthusiasm.
Harrell added “If you can get parents and families together having fun, then they’ll naturally want to be around each other more – and this will lead to more participation and overall engagement. They’ll want to be seen as a part of the community and will be reluctant to miss out on fun school events in the future.”
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