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NYC Helpline: How To: Work with Students' Families

More Reaching Out to Parents
Arlyne LeSchack

Here are some significant facts:

  • When parents are involved students achieve more regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnic/racial background, or the parents' education level. Students with involved parents have higher grades and test scores, better attendance and they get their homework done more often as well.

  • Even those students who are economically disadvantaged can reach high levels of achievement if their parents become involved in their school lives.

  • Students who are the farthest behind academically can make the greatest gains when their parents become involved. Children from diverse cultural backgrounds tend to do better when parents and teachers bridge the gap between the culture at home and the school. Even student behavior such as violence and alcohol use decrease as parental involvement increases.

  • Parent involvement benefits students of all ages. Students with involved parents have higher high school graduation rates and greater college enrollment. Middle school students whose parents remain involved make better transitions, maintain the quality of their work and develop more realistic plans for the future. Students whose parents are not involved are more likely to drop out of school.

Based on this information, part of your job as an educator is to reach out to parents and help them become involved in their child's education. There are different types of parent involvement.

Here are some ways you, or your school, can help:

  1. Parenting - Help all families establish home environments to support children as students- like a place to study, a special bookshelf, etc.

  2. Communicating - Design effective forms of school-to-home and home-to-school communications about school programs and children's progress. Newsletters or a weekly note home can be very effective.

  3. Recruit and organize parents as volunteers in your school and classroom.

  4. Provide information and ideas to families about how to help students at home with homework and other curriculum-related activities, decisions, and planning.

  5. Include parents in school decisions. You’ll be developing parent leaders and representatives.

  6. Identify and integrate resources and services from the community to strengthen school programs, family practices and student learning and development.

Some of these suggestions may seem beyond the call of duty but they will increase your students' achievement, and that alone is definitely worth it.

*Information presented above is based on the work of Dr. Joyce Epstein, Johns Hopkins University

Please e-mail me if you have any questions.


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