When families support a child’s education, it helps the child to be more successful in school and beyond. Generally, parents start out fairly engaged in the school community. They chaperone first-grade field trips, attend musical concerts, and fill out beginning-of-the-year paperwork on time. But, as a child gets older, that participation is at risk to fall off. Ask any middle school or high school teacher how many families attended the last set of conferences, and you’ll probably hear a pretty low number.
Does this mean that families don’t care about their kids or the school? No, of course not. As kids get older, parents may have other children to care for, work to support their family, and are busy taking care of the other things that happen as the family ages and grows. These things can take parents away from being active participants in the school community.
Family involvement is important to student achievement, so how can you improve family engagement in your classroom? Here are a few ideas to try out!
Check Your Timing
Many parents work during the school day or on the typical nine-to-five schedule. When school events happen in the middle of the day, it can be difficult for parents to get away from work.
Try to hold events early in the morning before school and work begins. Or choose a time later in the evening after families have had a chance to get home and have dinner. By working around their schedule, you show parents that you respect their time and are eager for their involvement.
Ask for Specific Types of Participation
Reach out to specific parents for certain tasks or things. Instead of making a general call in an email that says, “Is anyone available to read with students during our guided reading class?” Reach out to a parent and ask if they will read with a certain child on a certain day at a certain time.
Being specific about what you need in the classroom can help a parent gauge how much they can actually participate.
Most people have smartphones today and so they are able to be connected to the classroom electronically all day long. Use apps such as Class Dojo, Bloomz, Seesaw, Parent Square, classroom blogs, Twitter accounts, and other social media networking to engage with your students’ parents.
Ask them questions that require their participation. Post pictures and videos of their students completing certain activities. Suggest that they mention these videos when they’re talking to their kids about the school day. Online forums also help parents connect with each other so that they get to know more people in the school community.
Parent engagement is just one part of being a great educator, but it is an important role. If you’d like to learn more about what it takes to move your teaching practice from good to great, check out the Masters of Education in Elementary and Secondary Education at Grand Canyon University.
To learn more about how Grand Canyon University’s College of Education provides students with the skills it takes to work with families and encourage their support and participation, visit our website or click the Request More Information Button on this page
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.