Reach Every Parent / Sep 05, 2023
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How to increase parent participation in schools – it’s the buzzy question that has educational leaders in a tizzy.
But the data backs up all the fuss; getting parents involved in their child’s education tends to improve the student’s performance academically and socially in the short and long run.
When it comes to increasing parent participation in schools, we are looking for more than just parents wandering on campus. We want them to dive headfirst into their child’s learning and success.
Now, some mind-boggling stats will make you want to amp up involvement right away.
The “Differential Effects of Parental Involvement on High School Completion and Postsecondary Attendance” study revealed that students whose parents were actively involved in their education had a high school completion rate of 95%. In contrast, the completion rate for students with less involved parents was only 72%. Parental involvement is often key to graduating with flying colors.
In this blog, you’ll find practical tips and tricks to boost parent involvement in schools while keeping your sanity intact. It is the second level of ClassTag’s progressive Three Steps of Engagement.
Get the complete series for a successful family engagement plan below.
Read The Complete Family Engagement Plan Series
Page Contents of How to Increase Parent Participation in Schools
Picture this: parents not only attend school events but make sure their children are following your directive. That’s what true engagement is all about.
True engagement can take the form of:
It encompasses regular communication, school event participation, and teacher collaboration to support their child’s learning.
Now that parents generally have positive feelings toward the school, it’s a great time to focus on activating parents and families in your family engagement plan. After all, there is way too much work to be done not to figure out how to incorporate parents!
At this stage, you want to get families involved in various ways. If you’ve succeeded in the General Support / Buy-in level, parents will now be willing to participate in activities and events created by the teacher, school, or district.
The information that educators and schools make clear in the Participation phase is:
Before we get ahead of ourselves, remember that even though parents are now willing to participate, educators have to figure out ways to offer parents the opportunity to participate in ways that account for busy schedules, language barriers, and socioeconomic differences.
The result? Families will attend more school-wide events and have increased trust in the teachers and the school or district.
Once you establish a parent-teacher-student feedback loop, parent participation in the school community becomes valuable to your students’ learning. Students generally want their families to see the evidence of how well they are doing at school and appreciate sharing their school success with their parents.
Our yearly teacher and parent surveys confirm what the academic studies say: an established parent-teacher-student feedback loop increases academic achievement.
Take a deeper dive into our Strategies for Improving Parent Participation
Establishing clear and consistent lines of two-way communication is key to fostering parent participation. Various communication channels such as email, newsletters, and social media can all keep parents informed about school events, half days, and their child’s progress.
But what to do when you actually want to get parents to participate?
Below you’ll find concrete tips to better involve parents in family engagement activities, meetings, fun events like Spirit Days, classroom tests and projects, and volunteer opportunities.
Although it isn’t necessary to roll out the red carpet, organizing family engagement activities that make parents feel like school VIPs is helpful.
Organize family engagement activities that promote collaboration between parents, students, and educators, increasing parent participation. These can be workshops, seminars, and interactive events where parents can actively participate in their child’s learning process. Examples of interactive events include family STEM nights, literacy fairs, and art exhibitions.
Parents get to witness firsthand the value of their involvement at events like this and will be more likely to want to return! Read our staple family engagement activities below, with tips on increasing parental involvement.
Pro Tip: Offer food! Yes, you heard that right. Food is the magic magnet that lures parents onto campus. Throw child care or activities for the little ones, and you’ve hit the jackpot.
Pro Tip: Treat these events as an additional way for parents to get to know the educators and whatever makes them shine. Studies show that the majority of parents may make decisions based on their perception of the staff. In a study of parents considering which school for their children to attend, they rated the quality of teachers, principal or other staff at the school as “very important” in making the decision (79% percent of parents).
School board meetings, curriculum nights, and yes, 1-on-1s. They’re the bread and butter of parental involvement. Work with the tech at hand in this digital age, not against it.
Although some are meetings parents aren’t typically invited to, the decisions made there will impact the students directly. (We know you know) we know that parents will ask about the outcome shortly after the meeting. Therefore, make the whole process more transparent for the parents that want to be there.
Remember to plan how and when you will cater to virtual attendees. Embrace the virtual meeting mindset and let parents participate without stepping on campus. Offer digital options like meetings through Zoom or Google Meet for those who cannot come on campus or feel uncomfortable coming on campus.
Pro Tip: Have translators on hand for these meetings.
Pro Tip: Try using digital scheduling for parent meetings. It makes it easier for families to quickly schedule what works for them within your teachers’ timeframes without all the back and forth.
Creating a positive and inclusive school culture is essential for parent engagement and for increasing parent participation. Organize spirit days where students, teachers, AND parents can participate in themed events or dress-up days. These activities bring families together and foster a sense of belonging and community within the school.
Pro Tip: Just remember to regularly communicate and remind parents about upcoming events or give them access to a quick link where they can easily review the calendar and check on events.
“My kid’s school had sent out what the different days were about three weeks before Spirit Week. I was going to be really good this time and make sure that my child participated in all of them. So we show up on day one and my daughter is dressed and her superhero costume for Superhero Day, only to find out that we were a week early…. so anyway, now we joke about how we have given her trust issues…”– Parent of Elementary-school Student
Incorporate parents into the project and assessment process by involving them in classwide or school-wide projects, increasing parent participation.
Pro Tip: Encourage teachers to provide clear guidelines for parental involvement, ensuring that parents’ support complements their child’s efforts rather than taking over the work entirely. This approach promotes collaboration and empowers parents to participate in their child’s educational journey actively.
Pro Tip: Working with a parent-teacher engagement platform school-wide or district-wide (ex. ClassTag Connect) can feel like having a staff coordinator. It can save the day by sending automatic reminders to parents so that students and parents are more likely to stick to deadlines, and teachers can set and forget.
It can be so satisfying to take a group of grumbling teens to a volunteer opportunity, watch them enjoy themselves, and grow. Volunteering, we love thee!
But when signing up parent chaperones, is there an ideal way to get parents as excited as the educators?
One way to increase parent participation is to provide parents with meaningful volunteer opportunities aligning with their skills and interests. Whether it’s assisting in the library, organizing extracurricular activities, or chaperoning field trips, involving parents in school initiatives strengthens the bond between home and school and enhances the overall learning experience for students.
At some point, most classes will need a parent helper to make events happen. So what’s the best way to get families to volunteer? The typical message doesn’t get high results. You know the one, “Hey, parents, we need volunteers. If you’re interested in volunteering, do X, Y, and Z, jump through these hoops, and go through these background checks.”
While it’s important to go through the rigamarole of background checks, getting parents to volunteer is much more effective when you have specific asks for them.
Pro Tip: Avoid blanket statements. NOT: “If you’re interested in volunteering, sign up here!” That might scare off a lot of people. Be as specific with your asks as possible.
Requesting volunteers in a short, specific way gets better results. For example, “We need three volunteers to help manage student drop-off from 8:00- 8:30 Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for the next two months, at which point we will trade off for three new volunteers.”
One way to schedule volunteers is through free scheduling apps. That said, the wonders of parent-teacher platforms with built-in volunteer scheduling make life simpler for parents, teachers, and administrators.
Pro Tip: Classroom teachers requesting volunteers should request a higher number than needed (or open up additional slots using a platform like ClasTag). Teachers can inform the parents of the individuals chosen to attend and then have backup chaperones for the trip or volunteers to schedule the next event immediately. It’s always nice to have backups!
The benefits of parent involvement are significant for students academically and socially, so coming together on how to increase parent participation in schools is essential. These days, it’s not always about having parents physically present on campus but about fostering true engagement opportunities.
Organizing family engagement activities, such as workshops and interactive events, can make parents feel valued and connected to the school community. Spirit days, classroom projects, and volunteer opportunities effectively involve parents and strengthen the bond between home and school.
Beyond organizing the activities, educators and the school must maintain clear and consistent two-way communication with parents, offline and online. It builds relationships and empowers parents to take on an appropriate role and become partners in their child’s education.
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