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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Parent Involvement...

Parent Involvement...

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142 Replies 2164 Views

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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Heather Heal's picture
Heather Heal
7th grade math teacher from NYC

I am in the same situation. There is a lack of parent involvement in my school too. At my last Parent/Teacher Conference, I had 32 parents out of the 120 students I teach. I also sent home 53 notices to students who did not have a parent come up but are failing. I received 1 back. I am a parent and I realize that parents work and may be busy. However, it is their responsibility to know what is going on in their child's life. They must be involved in their school work. Without parental involvement and support, the students will not work to the best of their ability.

John G's picture

As I was reading some of your post on parent involvement, I find it key to use technology to get information out to parents. Due to today's climate of single parent families and both parents having to work to make ends meet, it is very difficult to have time to attend school meetings or parent conferences. I personally use email, cell phones, texting and mass texting to relay information to parents. This way many parents do not have to leave their homes to help out their students in the classroom. I read about podcasting but know nothing about this. Can you give me more insight??

Melissa's picture

I send home a weekly update (newsletter) with the student's homework. I include 'what we learned this week and what we will be learning next week'. Some of my students come to school telling me what we are going to learn. It makes me feel like my weekly update was important to at least one parent. We had a Kindergarten Family Fun Night at the beginning of the year. We had a little more than half of the kindergarteners and families attend, which was great for the first time. We talked it up to the students about how much fun it would be and they wouldn't want to miss it. We had a bounce house, face painting, small petting zoo (farm animals), balloon animals, ring toss, popcorn, sno cones, and beanbag toss. Our high school service club and FFA students came and helped with all of the games. Our title I teacher and a couple aides helped us too. The students were in the gym playing all of the games and having snacks while the parents and teachers were in the library. The teachers discussed state standards, new reading program, and various aspects of the classroom. The parents were able to ask questions and give concerns or comments. The parents told us how great and how informative it was. Of course, the students loved it. They talked about it for a week. I sent home an information sheet to the parents, who couldn't make it. I understand that many parents are working, things come up, sick children, etc. For parent involvement, I ask parents to cut things out for me at home. I had a parent tape nametags on my folders for me this year. She volunteered to take something home with her to work on because she knew she couldn't come in the classroom to help. I had Parent Teacher Conferences a couple of weeks ago and I didn't have a very good turnout. I only talked to three parents that I really needed to talk with. I sent notes home asking parents to come in and I didn't get a response. It seems as if the students who are doing fine in class have the parents who respond to me. Then the students who are struggling, their parents don't respond to any notes or parent involvement. Is this happening with anyone else? I have at least two parents a week come in the classroom to help, but it is only four or five different parents. Some parents are involved and want to help and others I'm not sure if they are concerned about their child's classroom.

Andrea Hall's picture

I love what Ariene Johnson suggested. I had never though of Parent Involvement that way before and it made me think. Maybe if I spell it out for my parents beginning in January it would help.

I am considering writing a letter to parents which would say that I value their input and involvement in the classroom. Here are some ways in which you can be involved in your child's classroom.... Math Dollar Program, E-mail me, and put a slot for them to put their own suggestions.

Thanks for this post.

Andrea Hall's picture

I agree with John G, we must use technology to help us involve parents. I too use mass email to contact my parents approximately every two weeks and I have a blog site as well http://osbornehighschool.typepad.com/hall . I never thought of mass texting. I believe that is a great idea. Do you know how to text from the computer? I would not want to put all my parents numbers in my own cell phone.

Andrea Hall's picture

There must be two Andrea Hall's here! :) I would love to meet the other Andrea Hall :)

Jason Nutt's picture

Great points Becci! Most of the parents that you see at conferences and school events are the parents of children that are doing very well. I wouldn't say that the parents that you don't see don't care. I just don't think they realize how important these meetings are to their children. I had one parent tell me that they thought parent teacher confereences were a waste of time. They said that their parents never went to them and they seemed to turn out just fine. I have tried to create a positive relationship with my parents by calling a few parents each week just to tell them about something great that their child had done. Many parents see a meeting with a teacher as a negative thing. Many get defensive and come up with excuses as to why their child may be having trouble. I figure that if the parents will see me as someone that contacts them for reasons other than someting negative, they may be more open to getting involved.
Another factor that contributes to decreased parent involvement is the increase in single parent households. Many parents need to work two jobs just to support themselves. My sister-in-law is a single mother that works nearly 65 hours a week. Fortunately, she has a great suppport group around her. Her mother often attends parent teacher conferences and school events in her place. Many families are not as lucky to have the support that she has.

Pam S.'s picture

At my school, parent involvement is a struggle. It seems that the parents who participate are truly not the parents we need to see becoming more involved in their child's lives. It is always the ones that are already aware and informed that show up to our events. I have to agree that we use the "if you feed them, they will come," philosophy at our school as well. I hosted a family reading night last fall. I served hot chocolate, coffee, cakes, and cookies. I shared important reading information including ways that parents could help at home. I modeled an at-home reading strategy for parents while the students were making bookmarks. We also had door prizes. Sadly, out of 450 students, only about 20 students and parents attended. I appreciate the idea of giving awards on a regular basis to recognize parent involvement. I can't wait to try that out.

Lisa Hess's picture

I work in a urban setting with high school students, and it is almost impossible to get parents involved. I try to make positive phone calls to parents which they always appreciate. I often get the usual "What did he do now?" before I can get a word out, but they are always pleasantly surprised when I have good things to say. Many of our parents work during the day and they can't come in for conferences or for informational meetings. Once a month, we hold Awards Night from 5:30-6:30. We give out perfect attendance awards, earned credit awards, grade level promoation awards (our school is set up a bit differently than most) and each teacher gives out a student achievement award. Parents and students really appreciate the special recognition and it also gives the teachers an opportunity to talk to parents.

Karen's picture

I know it can be frustrating from a teacher's point of view trying to get parents to be involved in their child's education. It is important to realize though that a parent not being able to attend those after school events planned by the school does not necessarily mean a lack of caring. Work and other family obligations may prevent this from happening. Although time consuming, I think a phone call/email now and then to parents is essential to keep the lines of communication open.

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