How To Get Parents Involved With School Activities
Research has repeatedly shown that children succeed
academically, socially and emotionally and become more
well-rounded and balanced individuals if their parents are
involved in their education and school activities. Getting
involved also sends the message to children that parents are
genuinely interested in their education, and that going to
school is a positive, valuable cause.
But many parents don't seem to show much interest in this cause
when they aren't participators in their children's school
activities. They often say they don't have the time or energy or
that they feel uncomfortable in their children's schools. Other
parents just seem to be confused about their options and how
they can participate, or are just lacking the right information.
So how can schools get parents involved with school activities?
Communication is the key. A major reason for lack of parental
involvement is lack of clear, straightforward and helpful
information. Schools and teachers need to make contact with
parents--in person, on the phone, through e-mail and websites,
through letters and notes sent home, through newsletters.
Teachers need to talk to parents in a basic manner without
adding "educational jargon" and ensure parents have regular
access to readable information about their children's school
activities--both in and out of the classroom.
Parents want to know what their children are learning, what
school activities they are involved in, how they as parents can
specifically be involved with their children's education and
school activities, how they can approach teachers and how they
can help their children at home.
Providing this information regularly, consistently and in
various formats will help bridge the gap between schools lacking
parental involvement and parents not being involved in the
Accommodation and inclusion is another strategy for getting
parents involved in school activities. Parents need to know that
schools are sensitive to their needs, lifestyles and demands.
Teachers should try and work around parents' work schedules for
school activities, meetings and conferences, and also work
around cultural or language barriers. Schools should make it
easy, too, by letting parents know that involvement doesn't have
to be an all-consuming, complicated process.
Another way to be accommodating is to invite parents to act as
partners in the school decision-making process. They should
regularly ask for parents' concerns and suggestions, and then
deal with them accordingly. If schools want parents to come to
school meetings, they could first of all provide a survey asking
what dates and times are the most suitable, provide child care
for younger siblings, and a "parental platform" during the
meeting where parents are given the opportunity to speak, make
suggestions and ask questions.
Be resourceful. Finally, schools should provide resources for
parents who want to learn more and become more involved in their
children's school activities and education. Offer parent
education classes. Create a parenting resource center at the
school with informational material such as brochures, articles,
magazines, tips, textbooks, videos and CDs or tapes. Develop a
school website with a section for parents. Set up sessions or
workshops at the school on issues like single parenting, helping
with homework, improving grades and study skills, child care,
raising teenagers, drug and sexual awareness, etc. Send "goodie
bags" home filled with activities parents can do with their
The opportunities are endless, and if schools and teachers are
truly committed to the cause of parental involvement in
education and school activities, then they can get parents on
board as well.