I think gaining parental involvement can be very different depending on where you are teaching. If you teach in a middle to upper class school, parental involvement is just as important, but probably won't be too difficult. If you choose a method most conducive to the majority of your parents, you can keep that line of communication wide open. In this day and age technology makes communication so easy. There is email, twitter, and a myriad of apps, like Remind, that simplify your ability to send out messages and reminders to your parents. Even though this type of school can lend itself to a fairly easy communication flow, don't take it for granted. Parental involvement leads to greater student success, and so it is up to you as the teacher to foster that success. You can do this by communicating with parents often, and for many reasons. You should reach out to parents to keep them informed about what is happening in the classroom, about upcoming events at school, about the good things their children are accomplishing, and of course about the poor choices some may be making. Parents will be grateful if they hear from you for the good things, not just the bad misbehavior. They will then know that you see their child as a whole person, and that you are invested in the well being of their child.
Parental involvement in a lower income school can definitely prove to be more difficult. Not all families have access to an internet connection, so email is not a whole group answer. though it may be a good method for some of your parents. Not all parents have working phones, so apps or texting, or even calling are not always the answer either. I think the best way to communicate could probably be through a newsletter, or consistent note sent home with the children. I believe sending something home on a consistent basis can help all involved to develop a routine. However, it may be a shotgun effect that gives the best results- use many forms of communication to reach as many parents as possible. Of course, no matter the socioeconomic status of the school, communicate often, and communicate about the good, as well as the bad.
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1. Ask them to chaperone during field trips.
2. Host a cultural fair (school, grade, or class) and request dishes, costumes, music, etc.
3. Have parents share their professions, jobs and hobbies with students.
4. Ask for volunteers to read/perform simple math tasks with students.
5. Create a monthly newsletter to keep parents informed.
6. Create a web site that keeps them informed.
7. Share your phone number/email address.
8. Don't wait until the next school-year to meet some of them.
9. Ask THEM how they'd like to contribute to the success of their child's class.
10. Tell them that you'd like them to be engaged.
So many parents need that friendly reminder.
In my opinion, the best way to gain active parental engagement would be to use a variety of methods to engage the parents. At the beginning of the year, I would probably survey the parents and find out how to successfully engage them in the classroom community. Otherwise, I would use a monthly newsletter, group emails, and/or Remind 101 in order to update them on what is going on in the class and remind them about due dates. It may also be necessary to talk to parents personally through phone calls, since not all people are technology savvy. In order to encourage more feedback and involvement from parents, I would also set up either a web site or a blog to update parents and create a forum for questions and discussion. Finally, I would go a step further and create opportunities for personal participation in the classroom throughout the year. Some parents might want to volunteer as class mom or help plan class parties and field trips. Perhaps we could have an open house at the beginning of the year, followed by a few meet and greets throughout the year to show off class projects or explain the curriculum. Much of what we do would depend on the community that we serve.
I don't know that there is one "best" way. I tried to differentiate my connection with families. Some families are going to engage with digital communication and artifacts like e-mail, blogs, class Facebook posts, Tweets, or (insert social media here). Some will visit a website if it's there and useful and updated. Others need phone calls or home visits. A few will come in and be a presence at school. It just depends. Are you looking for more family involvement with students who are struggling or just more family involvement in general?
I think there are two things that have to be addressed with this; what does the parent and family get out of fitting this into their schedule and is it convenient for the family schedule for the parent to attend. There's some great post on Pinterest for family surveys to get their input on what works best for them and what events they would enjoy participating in or leading. Social media sites are also great at keeping parents involved so they can watch footage of their child performing a project (with consent of course). I think the key is to find out what will motivate the parents to be involved whether it's potluck dinner, outdoor camping adventures, or bake sales, really getting to know your students and their families is key. Some examples are to have an open house to welcome students and their families, send out a survey to find out strengths that each family has to offer that they will be passionate about assisting in, and the schedule. If the family can plan and make arrangements they are more likely to particulate.
I think that the best way to get parents involved is to make it convenient for them, and to give them options. Some parents will be active on social media, some will want to actually be IN the classroom, and some will want to come to events but have to work during the day. By having different options (for example, sending social media blasts, having parent volunteers in class or at events, and sending home weekly newsletters), you will get the largest number of parents involved with the class.
You can also make parent participation part of some assignments. For example, students could interview their parents about their reaction to a historical event, their favorite book/poem, or what they think the next big scientific discovery will be. For students whose parents are not able or willing to complete the assignment, they could interview another adult, but I feel that most parents would be willing to participate and may even show more interest in the class afterwards.
I believe that maintaining constant communication with parents is key to getting them actively engaged. Every parent likes to receive communication differently just like every student learns differently. To try different forms of communication throughout the year can help make sure you are addressing the parent in some way. To get them actively engaged is to learn how they like to communicate and stress that you are trying to build a bridge to make sure they can help be involved even outside of the classroom. Some parents will be more actively engaged than others and want updates all the time. At least attempting to constantly keep communication flowing shows that you believe it is important that the parent is constantly taking an interest in their child’s education.
Establishing strong communication is key in gaining and maintaining active parent engagement. As a teacher we should give parents multiple ways to communicate with us. Teachers need to ensure to parents that they are human and have lives of their own, but they will make every attempt to stay on top of their communication with their classroom parents. I also believe that active parental engagement starts in the classroom with the students. As a teacher you have to maintain a strong line of positive communication in your classroom with your students. If the student goes home everyday and talks positively about their teacher and experiences at school, then the parents will be more likely to have a positive relationship with their child's teacher.
Not sure there is a "best way" but there are a variety of strategies you can use to maximize the success of parental engagement. I believe getting parental engagement starts with great communication strategies. Social media or class blogs is great for parents who prefer technology uses. Monthly newsletters are great for older parents and grandparents; it also give something parents can pin to the refrigerator to look at a reminder. Phone apps, such as Remind, is a great last minute communication tool. Not only communication to get parental engagement but making school events after school will help. Parents who work an eight hour day and cannot miss work love to attend events after school. For example, a kindergarten graduation, or 2nd grade play. You would get more parental engagement having some after school hours events.
I think the key to gaining genuine, active parental involvement is being proactive about communicating with them. Taking steps like sending out first-day letters, consistent updates through email or social media, and notes to parents for student accomplishments in the classroom will make the parents feel engaged and more likely to reach out to you as a teacher if they have a question or concern. For example, if there is a field trip or event you need a couple chaperons for, you will have a much easier time finding chaperons if you've included the event in a classroom newsletter once every month or so since the semester started and have given parents time to think about it and plan for it rather than if you haven't talked to most of the parents all year and then ask for chaperons one week before. Also, if you have a blog or social media account for the class where parents can respond to posts, they may get to talking on there and set up a meeting in the classroom after hours or at a place in town to discuss a project or ways to help their students. You didn't have to do anything to plan the event, but because you set up the social media account and gave frequent updates, parents felt comfortable speaking up about questions they had and it worked itself out.
I think the best way to gain genuine parental involvement is to treat them like we should the students, and give them ownership in the classroom. If a parent truly feels like they have a stake in the classroom (in addition to their child being in the class), they could become your biggest champion to other parents. Then, with that parent - or potentially parents - recruiting help from other parents on your behalf, the amount of engagement from all parents should increase. However, in all honesty, it may be difficult for some teachers to relinquish a little bit of control of their classroom to parents.
The best way to actively engage parents is to offer a variety of opportunities for engagement. If a parent has several options, then she will be able to genuinely engage in the most practical way for her and her family. I believe that a great teacher will offer chances for face to face engagement during the school day for stay-at-home parents and later in the day for working parents. For communication, most parents can engage via e-mail, a newsletter, a blog, Twitter, or Facebook posts. I recently read an article encouraging teachers to reach out and meet families where they are. That could mean engaging parents at sporting events, church functions, or other community events like concerts or fairs. The possibilities are really endless when you are intentional about making the connection.
I don’t think that there is one best method – families are different. The most important part is to stay connected. Some parents will be engaged through social media or other digital communication platforms (“Remind Me”). Some will prefer newsletters or phone calls. The important part is that the communication is two way. Engagement should be encouraged through reaching out to parents to assist their student if he/she is behind. Any changes or difficulties that a student is having can be discussed with the parents to see if there is anything you could do differently or that could be changed at home. Also reach out to parents to brag on students for good work. Being connected to parents will help them stay involved.
There are several ways to gain, genuine parental engagement: The first way is to communicate with the parents about their children’s progress. Meaning that communication should be regular between the parents and teachers, but not just focused on the issues with the child. Communicate with the parents on how well the child is doing and their progress in the class is important. Another approach is asking the parents on the best way to communicate. A lot of parents are not up-to-date on all the latest ways to communicate (social media, texting, etc..) but still prefer more traditional forms like calling, letters, and face-to-face meeting. Remembering how the parents prefer how to communicate will keep the parents in the loop and not felt like they are left out from the important details.
Beginning a mutual relationship of respect will help to gain genuine, active parental engagement. Start by treating every parent and student equally. This helps you to make an unbiased connection with both of them. Once you have begun to make the connection keep it up by continuing to be in contact with the parent. The methods of contact can be made in a wide variety of ways. Some are: by sending home weekly newsletters, create a blog for the classroom, using class Dojo or Remind. During the first week of school send a form home with the student to have their parents fill out with their information. You can include a question about what method of contact they prefer or best way to reach them. This will help you find out what works best for the students’ parents. Don’t forget about occasional phone calls too. It may take several attempts to engage a parent but no matter what manner you are using do so in a positive manner.
I believe the best way to gain genuine parental engagement is to keep parents aware of both positive and negative situations. I start parental engagement as soon as the year starts. I capitalize on positives early, so if I have anything negative to communicate I have already opened the lines of communication on a good note. Another way to gain genuine parental engagement is to actively have parents involved in their child’s education. Last year, often I would ask different parents to help with the class lesson. You would be surprised with how many parents were excited to participate in class lessons. Throughout the school year parents were more engaged and student’s behavior improved.
This may sound obvious, but the best way to get parents active is to provide opportunities! As a few others have said, some parents like to be involved in different ways. Some may just like to be kept in the loop about what's going on in the classroom, some may enjoy being included in assignments, some may enjoy in-person activities, and others may enjoy helping you as the teacher. When a parent seems unresponsive to any of these, consistency is key. In the end, every parent won't want to be involved, and that should not be taken personally.
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