Learning doesn’t begin within the four walls of a classroom; it actually begins at home. Whether it’s studying the alphabet, knowing about basic hygiene practices, carrying out age-appropriate chores, or being respectful to other people, children learn a lot of things initially from their parents and other members of their family at home.
Furthermore, this learning continues even after children begin going to school. This is why it is very important for educators to engage parents and involve them in their kids’ education. However, in many cases, this is easier said than done. These days, many moms and dads are so busy or lead such hectic lives that they almost completely rely on the teachers to take the reins when it comes to their children’s education.
As educators or administrators who possess an active role in your school’s policy-making process, there are many things that you can do in order to positively impact your institutions’ efforts in engaging parents and involving them in their children’s education. In this short guide, we’ll go through some of these best practices.
Mind the gap
Considering that the largest factor for the disconnect between parents and schools lies in the fact that many parents don’t feel like educators welcome them enough as part of the school community, it is important for teachers to give parents a leg-up by building rapport right from the get go and maintaining constant communication. Establish early on and let parents know that they are the school’s most important partners in the holistic education of their children. Afterwards, determine ways to keep the communication lines open.
For many parents, the only times they are able to meet with teachers are outside of usual school and office hours, which is why you should make provisions for accommodating them outside of such hours and outside of traditional parent-teacher conferences. Doing Skype calls, Google Hangouts, or Facebook Messenger calls are just some of the other ways by which educators can meet parents when they can only be present virtually.
As a final tip, also be cognizant and sensitive of language and cultural differences when communicating with the children’s families.
Determine the parents’ favored method of communication
Talk to the parents about their communication preferences, and make sure to take their own personal schedules into account. It’s okay to call or email moms and dads once in a while, but some of them may prefer not to receive calls during busy hours, while others may feel like they are being “spammed” if they receive too many emails.
Consider using a proper school and parent communication app that is specifically made for the purpose of keeping parents abreast of the latest happenings in school. Such an app usually offers innovative features like push notifications, virtual permission slips, a school calendar, a newsletter sending system, and absentee messaging as a convenient way of reporting a child’s absence for the day.
Involve parents in school activities
Having parents attend parent-teachers conferences is one thing, encouraging them to actually participate in school activities is another. Examples of such events include school fairs, mathlete competitions, recitals, intramural sports events, bake sales, little league games, soup kitchen volunteer days, parent career days, and so on.
Participation in such activities gives the parents an opportunity to bond with their children and to better understand what school is like for them. They will also have the opportunity to identify with the latest trends in school life, which can then help them better understand their children’s situations, and hopefully, better communicate with them.
Treat parents as collaborators in policy-making
In an age when creating sustainable school communities is paramount in the list of priorities by educators and school administrators, more and more educational institutions are beginning to see parents as actual collaborators in the decision-making process instead of just seeing them as observers.
Involving parents in policy decisions is a very good way to increase parents’ involvement in the education of their children. After all, the inputs and perspectives of moms and dads add a whole new dimension to the decision-making process—facets that teachers and administrators may fail to see and appreciate without that feedback mechanism afforded by the involvement of parents.
Numerous scientific studies have shown that children do better in school and are less likely to become entangled in questionable activities if their parents are more involved in their education. This behooves educators and school leaders to find creative and effective ways to engage parents and to encourage them to take a more active role in their children’s education and activities in school.