Supporting Parent Involvement
There are many ways parents
can be involved in their child's education. But how can teachers
support parents in these involvements? Here are six ways:
Objective: to recruit and organize parent help and
Parents can be given a learning compact which includes a pledge
to volunteer. This can include a "report card" to help
parents evaluate their contribution to their child's success at
school. A survey can be done to identify the talents of parents
and their availability.
A school or classroom volunteer program can be created to help
teachers, administrators, students or other parents. A parent room
within the school also encourages volunteering. A volunteer can
be designated as a "class parent." A telephone tree can
be set up to provide needed information.
Findings from the US Department of Education's Prospects Study
(1993) reveal that students in schools with pledges or learning
compacts in place perform better than students in similar schools
without them because of greater reinforcement of learning at home.
Furthermore, effects of the pledge on student learning were stronger
than effects from other school-home interactions.
Objective: to help families establish home environments
to support children as students.
The school can provide suggestions for home conditions that support
learning at each grade level. Workshops, videotapes and phone message
can help. Schools can provide parent education courses or training
for parents-everything from GED, college credit to family literacy.
The school can provide family support programs to assist with
health, nutrition or other services. Sometimes home visits are necessary
at transition points: from preschool to elementary, from elementary
to middle school, from middle school to high school. These can be
held in the neighborhood to help families understand school and
to help schools understand families.
All of this gives parents a feeling of support from the school
and it can help you understand families' cultures, backgrounds,
concerns, goals, needs and views of their children.
Objective: to design more effective forms of school-to-home
and home-to-school communications with all families each year about
school programs and about their children's progress.
The best practices would include:
- conferences with every parent at least once a year
- translators where needed
- weekly or monthly work folders sent home with space for parental
- report cards with conferences on improving grades
- regular schedule of notices, memos, newsletters or other communication
- clear information about choosing programs and activities
- clear information about all school policy and changes.
This would give parents an understanding of school programs and
policies, help them monitor their own child's progress, and help
them solve any problems as they arise.
4. Learning at Home
Objective: to provide information and ideas to families about
how to help students at home with homework and other curricular-related
activities, decisions and planning.
The best practice would include:
- providing parents with information about skills required for
students in all subject at each grade
- providing parents with information about homework policies
and how to monitor and discuss schoolwork at home
- providing information about how to assist students to improve
skills on various class and school assignments.
Parents also need to be made aware of the homework schedule. They
should have a calendar with activities including family math, science
and reading. Each parent should participate in goal setting and
working on future plans.
This helps parents know how to support, encourage and aid students
at home. It gives them some understanding of the instructional program
and what the child is learning in each subject as well as awareness
of their child as a learner.
For teachers, this enables a better design for homework assignments
and a respect for family time. Because of the increased interaction,
the teacher might recognize the equal helpfulness of single and
working parents and gain an appreciation of how less formally educated
families motivate and reinforce their children’s learning.
5. Decision Making
Objective: to include parents in school decisions and develop
parent leaders and representatives.
Encourage your class parents to become part of the PTA or the
School Leadership Team. This gives parents input into policies that
affect their children's education and increases their feeling of
ownership of school. Further, it gives them a connection with other
families that are involved and an awareness of school, district
and state policies.
When parents are involved in the decision-making process it can
give you an awareness of their perspectives in policy development
and help you view the parents in a more equal way.
6. Collaborating with Community
Objective: to identify and integrate resources and services
from the community to strengthen school programs, family practices
and student learning and development.
This would include being able to give families information about
health services in the community, recreational and support services,
and even summer programs available for students.
The knowledge and use of these local resources by families can
help their child increase his or her skills and talents. The family
may also take pride in making a contribution to the community. In
addition the school can be seen more and more as part of the community.
For teachers, knowledge of these resources can enrich your curriculum
and instruction as well as open you up to new avenues for partners,
mentors, and others to assist students. The knowledge will help
you become a member of your students' community.
The Parental Involvement Checklist from
The Project Appleseed
you have any questions.