Start early. Once parents register their child for school, link the "new" parents to veteran ones. This buddy connection helps keep parents engaged in their child's education and strengthens the wider school community.
Professor of education
Georgian Court University
Lakewood, New Jersey
Working with inner-city low-income families requires a special creativity, and one strategy for parent-teacher conferences has been very successful: When parents visit their child's teacher, they receive a voucher for one bag of groceries from a local food bank. If they have three children, they receive three bags. Meeting this basic need has helped parents come and work with teachers for a student's academic needs.
J. Dianne Anderson-Nickel
Arthur M. Hamilton School
We opened a drop-in center for parents where a bilingual instructional aide teaches them how to use office machines and engage in a variety of activities to help classroom teachers.The friendly kaffeeklatsch environment helps them relax, and we encourage them to bring other parents with them.The plan has been so successful that some have been hired at other schools as instructional aides themselves.
University of La Verne
La Verne, California
I call or write a handful of parents and students at the end of each week to inform them about something positive the child has said or done and why it makes me proud. Not only does this involve the parents, it continues to motivate the students as well.
Oyster Creek Elementary School
Sugar Land, Texas
Keeping parents involved rests entirely on communication. A simple phone call, a quick note sent home -- even a visit to their homes -- helps build a positive (and necessary) relationship between parents and teachers. When teachers show they care enough to communicate with parents about their child, they gain an ally in helping the child be a success.
Academic dean/English department
Chair, Santa Clarita Christian School
Canyon Country, California
At each open house, I ask parents to write down their email addresses. I then send home a monthly newsletter (both electronically and on hard copy). I also send digital pictures of their children doing activities throughout the day, as well as school board minutes, grading rubrics for long-term assignments, PowerPoint presentations, and positive notes when I see students doing something kind or above and beyond what's required. It's the best way for me to keep parents informed. I end my emails with the tagline "Partners in education."
Northside Intermediate School
Don't be afraid to call with good and bad news -- in that order. If you get off to a good start at the beginning of the year with what a child does well, they are usually more receptive to bad news. Also, writing letters or email keeps lines of communication open in an informal way.
Fifth- and sixth-grade inclusion teacher
Capital City Public Charter School
Get them involved!
Give them stuff!
Collaborative Learning, Inc.
I prepared questions for my history students to ask their parents and grandparents about where they were during, and what they remembered about, certain important events in American history. The questions were always simple and were meant to start a dialogue as well as elicit information.
Lamar State College
We have parent coffees, which a Spanish-speaking interpreter attends and which include a drawing for grocery gift certificates. We have educational presentations and provide handouts with questions parents should ask their child at the end of the nightly required reading.
Fillmore Elementary School
I post our daily assignments on my class Web page. The kids keep assignment books in their notebooks, but this way, parents can check anytime to see what is due the next day. I also post my weekly newsletter online and send the link to parents on Friday mornings. I think I have better readership of the newsletter because busy parents don't always take the time to read the newsletter when it comes home on Friday afternoon, but if they can read it at work, they will.
Manor Hill Elementary School
I send home a monthly newsletter, "Mathematical Messages," which includes important dates and classroom snapshots of what we have been doing and special recognitions for student achievements. It also offers a "Parent Point," where I give advice on how to incorporate math in children's lives, from making a special dessert using a recipe and discussing fractions to having children help pay bills using the family checkbook.