As educators, we all know how crucial parental engagement is to a student’s success in school. We wish that we could engage all parents with the snap of our fingers. For some parents, teachers don’t even have to do that much. And yet, other parents take far more cajoling. Try some of the hints listed below and see if you can gain more engagement from your students’ parents.
- Create a Welcome Letter telling parents a little about yourself. Be sure to include a picture of you to give it more of a personal feel.
- Have a Meet ’n Greet at someplace other than your classroom. Meet at a park, a fast-food restaurant, or a mall. (You may want to do this with a limited number at a time.) The neutral ground may make for an easier getting-to-know with each other. Talk about family interests.
- Use technology. Texting, Skyping, or Facetiming the parents showing their children busy at school could help to break through barriers.
- Engage families with whom you have a good relationship to reach out to other families that are not as engaged. They may be persuaded more easily by their peers than the teacher.
- Share highlights of students’ days with unengaged parents. You are building trust and showing that you care and want to interact by reaching out.
- Make sure that you communicate that it is important for parents to be involved. Some parents may have been made to feel unwelcome at school in the past. Share studies that show family involvement has an impact on learning.
- When parents are in the classroom helping, make sure you share with all other parents about that day and how much you appreciate their assistance. Let all parents know of upcoming projects you may have, and that you are looking for volunteers.
It is unlikely that you will be able to engage all parents as you would like, but some of the above suggestions should help foster more engagement. Remember the boy throwing starfish back into the ocean? He couldn’t save them all, but he made a difference to the ones he did get back to the water.