Parent and Family Involvement in School

Written By: Mary M. Alward
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When visiting my grandson's school, I often hear administrators and teachers complaining that not enough families are involved in their children's education. I got thinking about his and decided it is the school climate. I definitely do not feel welcome in that school. If the educational professions want parents to come to the school and be involved in their children's activities and learning, something needs to be done to make them feel welcome.

Research has proven that the more parents and other family members are involved in a child's school, the higher the rate of academic success by the child. When parents and other family members are involved with the school community, children have a better attitude, attend school on a regular basis and achieve academic goals consistently. This enhances the child's chances of continuing his education far beyond the mandatory requirements.

School Climate

It is imperative that the school climate be a positive one. Family members who visit their child's school for educational and social functions and find it lacking are not likely to want to become involved in their child's education. Families want to feel not only welcome, but respected and trusted. When a family member voices a concern, they want to be heard, not brushed off. If a school's climate is positive, families will want to be involved. This creates and excellent partnership between the family and the school community. In turn, children excel academically and socially, which has a positive impact on their future. If parents and school officials are constantly battling over issues, this creates a stressful and negative environment for the child both at home and at school.

Communication

There needs to be consistent communication between home and school. This can be in the form of teacher/parent conferences, notes entered into an agenda daily, newletters, telephone calls and home visits by the teacher. Often families become very comfortable and are more likely to become involved in their child's education if home to school communication is good. This allows families to understand the curriculum, classroom activities and how their child is progressing both academically and socially. When families have this knowledge, they are better equipped to help their children at home. The family then becomes and extension of the school family.

Promoting Family Involvement

Schools need to promote family involvement. This can be done by setting up a parent center, establishing a committee to develop communication between home and school, as well as putting a home visitor program into place. This encourages families to become involved in planning, decision making and developing curriculum. If parents and other family members feel they are in partnership with the school, they will then become actively involved.

Encouraging Family Involvement

Professional educators can encourage a positive school climate and family involvement by:

Recognizing and implementing skills that are needed to work with family members.

Promoting training for educators in family involvement.

Finding ways to assure the school becomes an extension of the family and to create a consistent environment between home and school.

Family Involvement Goals

Educational professionals should assure the school climate reinforces the involvement of parents and other family members.

School administrators and teachers must understand how the school climate affects the involvement of families in their children's education.

Assuring parents and other family members feel welcome at the school so they will become involved in their children's education.

Educational professionals being consistent in communicating with families in a positive way.

Involving families in school activities.

Being supportive of family involvement.

School Strategies

School strategies for involving family members include:

Sending invitations and reminders for school events.

Having print materials translated for families who have limited knowledge of the English language.

Asking parents to volunteer at the school.

Setting up a room where families can find seek information about their children's progress, ask questions or make suggestions.

Involve family volunteers in planning social events.

Sending out a monthly newsletter.

Offer workshops and support to help families learn to encourage their children academically and socially.

School administrators and teachers must communicate with families to build a close working relationship. If family members feel that they are unwelcome at the school or that issues are not being dealt with, they will not want to become actively involved. A positive school environment must be maintained in order to ensure all families feel welcome at the school. This in turn will encourage family involvement, which is a positive experience for everyone involved.

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