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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Parent Involvement...

Parent Involvement...

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There seems to be a lack in parent involvement in the classroom, it seems to get worse year after year. I provide daily opportunities for parents to volunteer, as well as monthly parent involvement activities for parents to attend & I get no interest from parents or even a response. For example, this months family involvement activity was "pizza & puzzles," the parents were invited to put together puzzles with their child & enjoy a light pizza snack. However, out of 40 enrolled students only 1 parent actually participated. Is this happening every where (the lack of parent involvement)? Does anyone have any suggestions on ways to promote more parent involvement in the classroom?


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Lisa McMindes's picture

I have found that email contact has opened the communication doors for me. Most of my parents work full time and often it is hard to stay in contact with them. I find if I can send them an email they are more apt to reply promptly then if I try sending notes home. Although it takes a lot of time I try to send an email to parents at least once every other week. I find that parents do not feel as intimidated by email contact as they do by phone calls as well.

Kerri's picture

I have found that you tend to get the same parents who come to everything. Although the ideas that you have all been sharing are wonderful. We do some similar things at are school like book fairs and family fun night. It seems that the younger the students the better chance you have of getting the parents to come out. I also find I get a much better response when I e-mail. Since I teach in a very small district I have frequent contact with many parents and I view this as a good thing. I do remember one time someone saying they were having difficulty getting parents involved at a school who had a large population of miniority students. What the teachers had not realize was although the students spoke english the parents did not so the notes and flyers sent home in english were useless. After learning that there was a language issue the teacher/school was able to find other ways of communicating in an effort to get more family involvement. I only share this because maybe the lack of parent involvement has more to do with busy schedules than we think.

Jamie Kessen's picture
Jamie Kessen
3-5 Grade Special Education Teacher from Indiana

Email is somewhat of a life saver in today's busy world. I can keep in contact with a handful of my parents that way. The parents are so busy with work and trying to get their children to other after-school activities that even the chance to sit down and go through homework with their child is a strain at times. Email is a quick way to give updates on their child and inform them of upcoming events that may take place. Even though some of the parents' busy schedules do not allow them to come in to the classroom, they are able to send any needed supplies to the school with their child.

Kerri's picture

My principal is always asking us to find inventive ways to get parents involved. He will go on to say that research has proven that parents who are involved in their childrens education have children who perform better in school.

Brianna's picture

Involving families in the education of their students is a vital part of student success and motivation. With the new family dynamic and hectic unpredictable working schedules, it has become more difficult to involve families in the educational process. My school hosts numerous family involvement nights in which we invite families into the school to participate in different academic activities.
One mode of communication that I use in my classroom which I have found very effective is Family Message Journals. In these journals, my students write about currents events taking place in school or new learning that has taken place. They write a friendly letter to someone in their family. Every Friday my students take their family message journals home. Over the weekend, family members are invited to read the journal entry and respond in writing. I give my students time to share their families' responses with their peers. I have found that when the communication is coming from the student, families are more inclined to participate. I am always looking for new ways to increase family involvement in my classroom and school. If you have any ideas I would love to hear them.

Jeff's picture

This year I have trouble with students turning in homework, is there any other ideas rather than phone calls home or progress reports to get families involved with the homework?

Rob A.'s picture

Some families just don't seem to value the importance of a good education or understand what it entails. That doesn't mean we stop trying to get them involved in our schools. At my school it is almost impossible to get families in our school during the normal school day. They either both work, have a single parent family, or have young children at home. It takes a lot of exra time and effort on the teacher's part. My school works real hard trying to get parents in at night. We have fun and game nights that relate directly to concepts being taught, we celebrate student achievement, or simply have get togethers. We usually provide something everyone can relate to, food. We have many low income families and a good hot meal is a real attention getter. Once we get them there, they seem to buy into the great things we are doing and seem to be more willing to participate in their child's education. A lot of our parents have little or no education and feel very intimidated. These types of functions make them feel more comfortable in a school setting.

Lynne Wright's picture

I love the puzzles & pizza idea, might have to try that one! This is heartwrenching but sadly not uncommon. I had a class of 30 second grades students, and only 5 showed up for "Back to School Night" and these parents were of students who were performing exceptionally well. I have tried reaching out to parents to support their children in learning, to no avail. Many are too busy dealing with their own issues to find the time to support the children. I am still looking for ways to reach them, will keep you posted.

Jeff's picture

Hi Lynne,

I know it is very frustrating. How ever, my school is a program improvement school and parental involvement is a stretch, but I was able to get a pretty good number of parents to show up by making a back to school dvd. Most importantly, I made sure I had parents permission to put the student in the video. The parents were very eager to show up and try to win a dvd for back to school in the raffle.So now every year I try to take video or pictures of students engaged in their daily activities and so on to put in a video.

Amy's picture

It is so awesome to hear that the teachers of older children want parent involvement. My son is in 6th grade this year and although I filled out a form on what I could do for the classes my son was in, I have never been asked to do anything. As early as 4th grade my son's teacher made it clear(by her actions) to me that she did not want any involvement from the parents. His 5th grade teacher, however, let me help in the classroom once a week and teach a reading group. I am also very discouraged by the fact that there is no communication with the parents once the children get into middle school.

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