Research shows the more involved parents are in their child’s education, the more likely the child is to be successful, whether it be academically, socially, or emotionally. This isn’t a secret. You know this, most parents know this. So why is parent involvement still on the top of teacher’s wish lists?
First, if you’ve experienced frustration with the lack of involvement from parents, you’re not alone. One thing I’ve learned from teaching is that, sometimes, it’s not only the students you need to teach, it’s the parents too.
I used to become frustrated with the lack of parent involvement in my classroom and found it easy to blame the parents. After much research on the subject and discussion with colleagues, I realized that the first and the best thing to do was to empathize. So then, I reminded myself how busy I was, with my job and my life. Then I put myself in the shoes of the parents. They are just as busy, with their own jobs and their children and their own lives too. It’s not that they don’t care, it just means their priorities may lie elsewhere.
So I asked myself: How do I help parents find the time not only to get involved but be excited and enthusiastic about being a contributing factor in their child’s education?
Creating the Environment
Well, the next thing I did was look at myself. Have I created a safe, inviting, open environment for parents? Have I set the tone for the amount of involvement I appreciate, without alienating parents who simply don’t have the time or resources? By simply asking myself these questions, I became aware of myself and my doings. I knew that I could only control myself, so whatever I was doing, wasn’t enough. After that day, I took a step forward to strengthen the home-to-school connection in my classroom.
Over the years I have tested a number of methods, and let me be the first to say, there is no cookie cutter solution. Just like your students, each adult and family are different, so you may need to take a different approach to each. With that being said, the one tried and true step to creating a classroom with more parent involvement is to open the conversation and build rapport with each child and family. This may be one of the reasons we find it so hard to get parents involved. We spend a lot of time getting to know our students, but do not focus on getting to know their families.
The older your students, the less involved the parents will be, but I still encourage you to get to know them, relate to them, and create a positive environment where they feel comfortable communicating with you and their child about their learning.
Here are a few tips on how to initiate parent involvement:
- Create a classroom Facebook page/group, with private security settings. Get permission from parents to post about their child, and add them into the group. This way you can put daily or weekly updates about what is going on in your classroom. Upload photos – parents love photos of their children!
- Create opportunities to connect with parents, not just on parent-teacher nights. Invite them for daytime presentations, set up a volunteer list, or even a host a morning coffee meet n’ greet.
- Organize an evening workshop that touches on a relevant subject to your school. Some examples are nutrition, the importance of sleep in education, and ways for parents to help their child with homework.
- Accommodate to different families’ needs – multilingual communication, honor different heritages and their celebrations.
- Communicate with parents through email from time to time. Try emailing a weekly newsletter!
- Create homework that has to do with parent involvement. For example, an interview with a family member or a ‘cooking with parents’ exercise where the child needs to document the step-by-step procedure.
Get Started Now with These Templates I Created on TeacherSherpa
I have added some materials to my TeacherSherpa page to help get your creative juices flowing in getting to know your students, their families, and create a positive learning environment for all!
What We Did This Week!
Getting to Know Me
This is a fun way to get to know your students and also get their parents involved in the process. Share this questionnaire with parents to fill out on their child’s behalf. You could also use it to interview your students!
Looking for more ideas to get to know your students and increase parent involvement? Discover more.