Much of a student’s success in school depends upon having parents who are supportive at home. The earlier a parent gets involved in their child’s education, the better. One study shows that the three most important factors of parental involvement include: their perception about whether their child or school even wants them involved; how much they believe they can positively influence their child’s education; and what is okay for them to do with and for their child regarding school. In addition, when parents model behavior that shows education is important, it will have a positive impact on them. Children need to feel that school is an important part of their family life. You’re a teacher – but where do you start?
1. Quite simply: just ask parents to get involved! Sometimes it isn’t a matter of parents not wanting to be involved — it’s a matter of them not knowing how to start. When you have a list of tasks to accomplish for your classroom, don’t assume you must do it all yourself. There are parents who would be happy to help, if they were just asked.
2. Identify the talents, strengths and interests of parents. Those skills could be extremely helpful to the classroom. Send a list home of what opportunities your school has for parents and ask them which ones they are interested in helping with. Jobs could include coordinating fundraisers, managing volunteers, working as paraprofessionals or being a community advocate for their school.
3. If a parent is resistant to becoming more involved, they need to know this: Research has consistently shown that students whose parents are regularly involved in their child’s education will have better school attendance, improved grades and will demonstrate a higher level of motivation and self-esteem than kids whose parents aren’t involved. In addition, parents will be less likely to have to deal with their child dropping out of school, getting suspended, using drugs and alcohol or being violent. That’s convincing evidence!
4. Become a partner with parents, and make them feel part of the team. Some parents feel it is a teacher’s job to teach and don’t know how they, as parents, can help. Offer parents a guideline of everything they can do to support their child’s education at home. This might include suggestions for creating an effective study environment for their child or how they can help their child study. Encourage parents to go on field trips or watch educational programs with their child, which will reinforce your teaching efforts from home.
5. While many parents get involved with school when their child first enters kindergarten, parental involvement drops sharply with each passing grade level. Find ways to keep parents involved as their child progresses through school. If possible, have a space designated at school that serves as a parent room to encourage continued involvement at school.
6. Don’t pre-judge who you think will, or won’t, want to become involved. Even though a child might come from a single-parent or low-income home, it doesn’t mean that parent isn’t just as concerned about their child’s education as others are. Give these parents the same chance to participate in their child’s education as you would middle-class or two-parent families.