As teachers, you see the benefits of parent involvement on the students in your classroom on a daily basis. When parents are involved in their children’s education, children can exhibit less disruptive behavior and thrive academically, while parents and teachers can work together to address rising problems sooner rather than later.
According to Child Trends Data Bank, an organization that has been tracking parent involvement since 1996, “the percentage of students whose parents reported involvement in their schools rose significantly between 1999 and 2007 across several measures, including attendance at a general meeting, a meeting with a teacher, or a school event, and volunteering or serving on a committee. However, these proportions fell or remained the same in 2012.”
Encouraging parental involvement is a top priority for teachers, but it can be tough. Include the opportunities below to strengthen your parent involvement plan for the upcoming school year.
Back to School Night
Here is your first opportunity to speak directly to your parents about the school year ahead. Give them information about how you manage your classroom and what their children will be working on throughout the year. Topics can include:
- The daily class schedule and the way your students will learn different subjects (e.g. small groups, one-on-one lessons, independent work)
- Expectations and end-of-the-year goals (e.g. reach guided reading level H or master adding and subtracting to 20)
- Where students in your grade level usually struggle (this will help ease parents’ minds)
- Classroom rules and how you handle issues with behavior
Take just a few minutes to explain the Common Core State Standards. Parents are often uncertain of what Common Core really is and what skills will be measured during standardized testing. They may be receiving their information on social media or from other sources that can be one-sided and incomplete. Take advantage of this opportunity to provide an accurate message on Common Core. Although the allotted time may only allow you to briefly touch on the subject, invite parents to contact you to further the discussion.
Perhaps most importantly, share your contact information and your policy for replying (e.g. do you reply throughout the day or only after hours). Sincerely encourage parents to contact you with questions and concerns throughout the year.
It’s easy for parents to feel a little lost in their child’s world. So much has changed since they were in their child’s place—“new” math, cyberbullying, and mobile devices in the classroom, to name a few. Parents can easily feel unsure, lacking the tools and skills to become involved in their child’s education.
Empowering parents to be part of the conversation can be an integral part of your parent involvement plan. Parental resources are available to guide parents at any grade level.
- For parents of students who are just entering school, share information on getting ready for math or getting ready to read.
- As students get older, parents will appreciate information on helping with homework assignments, being a study partner for tests, and preparing for Common Core assessments.
- It can be a real eye-opener for parents when they begin to truly understand the social issues their child is going through, such as bullying, body issues, and social media/internet safety.
Everyone is engaged and committed when the new school year begins, but momentum can dwindle as time goes on. Here are several ways you can keep your parent involvement plan going:
- A classroom blog where you can share pictures or videos from daily lessons and permanently display housekeeping items (e.g. schedule of specials, homework policy)
- A weekly email that highlights the topics being covered in each subject, tests scheduled for that week, and other important news parents should know. If families don’t have internet access, consider sending home a printed version as well.
- Keep parents aware of behavioral issues with weekly or biweekly behavioral reports. Ask parents to sign and return the reports, so you can ensure that they are aware of their child’s progress.
- A list of volunteer opportunities throughout the year, either in your classroom or school building (along with any clearances or checks that volunteers need to complete beforehand). Use an online scheduling program to help things run smoothly (e.g. SignUpGenius)