1. Build a Learning Partnership with Parents. Find ways to deepen the conversations at home about what is happening in your school’s classrooms. Set the tone for parent engagement that establishes an expectation of student success. Work with your admin staff and teachers to brainstorm different ways to improve parent partnerships in learning. Whatever the strategy, be sure to make parents feel welcome. From curriculum nights, school events and volunteer opportunities there are plenty of ways to make parents your partner in education. Here are a few great ideas I found online for involving parents.
– Project Planner Night– Students usually have 1-3 large projects throughout the school year. Teachers have noticed that quite a few students’ struggle putting a good project together or don’t complete it at all. One of the most common reasons was because they didn’t have the materials needed to complete the project. Many parents want to help, but don’t know how or lack the proper resources. Project Planner Night you can go over expectations, provide materials, online resources and even show examples of an A project vs. a C project.
– Brown Bag Lunch Chats- Superintendents and principals are using the brown-bag forums to improve relations with families and gain insight into what is going on in the community.
–Three for Me- Three for Me is a national parent volunteer initiative asking parents to pledge just three volunteer hours a year per child. With this initiative schools have generated more volunteers and volunteer hours than they thought possible. Work with your school’s parent organization and see about implementing this program or one similar to get more parents involved in school.
2. Reach parents where they are: Where are parents? Research shows that 91% of adults own smartphones and are using them constantly. Monthly newsletters can be great with a column for the principal’s reflections, updates, and reminders. However, in today’s world this form of communication can be difficult to access on a mobile device and can easily get mixed up in a parent’s junk mailbox.
Let’s step into the 21st century. Consider a mobile app for you school. 86% of time spent on smartphones is mobile app usage. Keep your school’s mobile app updated with the most pertinent information for parents, students, and other key stakeholders. Some mobile app technology allows for push notifications to get parents urgent information instantly. Learn more about Embr mobile apps here and see how other schools are using this technology.
Is your school on social media? If not, you should be. With approximately 802 million people actively using Facebook daily, 255 million per month on Twitter and over one billion unique visits to YouTube each month, these social media channels serve as major resources for schools and districts to communicate to larger audiences in interactive ways. Integrate your social media channels into your school app and make it easy for parents to engage with your school wherever they are.
3. Showcase student work. Parents love to see their child’s work and will most likely regularly visit the channels where you communicate if you are showcasing the work of their kids. Invite them into the learning and creation that is happening in your school. Get creative! Video, photos, and short blogs are great ways to showcase student work and achievement.
4. Personally Communicate. Don’t depend on automated systems. Encourage teachers to make phone calls and send emails. A best practice for email communication is for positive conversation only. Save the tough talks for face to face meetings or phone calls. Don’t let technology keep you from building personal relationships and trusts by only communicating via text only channels.
Connecting with parents is important for student success, because it helps parents reinforce the learning that is happening at school. What is your school doing to better connect with parents? Share in the comment section below.