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NYC Helpline: How To: Work with Students' Families

Reaching Out to Parents
Arlyne LeSchack

Research confirms that regardless of background, when parents are involved in their children's education the results are increased student achievement. But sometimes, due to financial or other pressures, parents are not as involved as they need or would like to be. If it seems to you as a teacher that some of your students' parents are not as involved as they should be, don't be judgmental. It is safe to assume that all parents want what's best for their children; occasionally some may need a little help.

Here are some things you can do to connect with parents:

  1. Establish learning agreements. These agreements can define the goals, expectations and shared responsibilities between you as the teacher, the students and the parents. This makes all of you partners and contributors to the students' success.

  2. Reach out to parents. Don’t wait until there is a problem to contact parents. Think of yourself as a collaborator with each student’s parents working toward a common goal, student's success.

  3. Design homework so that it engages parents in the process. This works especially well with long term assignments-about family history or work.

  4. Encourage parents to be vocal about their child's education. Encourage your parents to become involved in your school's PTA or School Leadership Team. The more involved the parents are the better.

  5. Be available to parents beyond school hours if possible. If your school has before or after school programs encourage your parents to take advantage of all the resources available to them.

  6. Participate in your school's parent room or help create one if your school doesn't have one. A space where parents feel comfortable in school is essential. This is where they can share their experiences with other parents.

  7. Don't think of parents as "the other," think of them as your client or customer. After all, they have entrusted you with their most prized possession.

Please e-mail me if you have any questions.


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