It’s no secret: When parents are involved in their children’s education, students do better.
Just look at this research from the CDC. Parent engagement is closely linked to improvements in student behavior, academic achievement, and well-rounded social skills.
The benefits of better parent engagement are universally agreed upon, even in Washington, where lawmakers seemingly can’t agree on anything. The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) all but mandates parent engagement in schools.
Unfortunately, there is no single one-size-fits-all approach to effective parent involvement. Every community is different. If you’re looking for ways to engage parents in the age of ESSA, here’s a few ideas that might work for you.
Van Bokkelen Elementary School in Anne Arundel County, Md. wants parents to know exactly what’s going on in the classroom—that’s why the school invites its parents to observe and participate in live classes.
The “Parent University” program also conducts night classes for parents to learn more about the school and what they can do to help support student learning.
As Teresa Tudor, a spokesperson for Anne Arundel County Public Schools told WBALTV 11, “It means a lot to their children that they’re doing it. Their children see that they’re coming back to the school in the evening, it might be sometimes in the day, learning about the school and learning ways they can help their children academically.”
The best part? It’s working. Van Bokkelen has seen the number of actively engaged parents in its community go from just a few dozen to hundreds since the program started, says Principal Selecia Hardy.
Engagement helps everyone
Parent involvement benefits parents and students, but it also benefits school administrators and staff. School districts that focus on parent perspectives often identify new ways of thinking and alternative solutions.
This is especially true for teachers, says Hardy. “It holds a teacher accountable, because they know the parents really do care about their child’s education. Also, it’s excellent feedback for the teachers, because parents are asking questions about the curriculum and practices that are occurring in the classroom.”
Engaged parents keep students, administrators, and teachers on their game. But the advantages extend beyond the classroom. By engaging parents in school, the thinking is that they will be better equipped to support their children at home.
For more on Van Bokkelen and Parent University, check out this full news report from WBALTV11.
Start a conversation
Your district doesn’t have to offer night classes or a parent university to engage parents in their children’s education—not right away. If you’re considering new ways to engage parents, start small. Ask parents for their opinion. How do they want to be involved? What programs make the most sense for your community?
Whether through in-person meetings or online listening stations, parent engagement starts with a conversation.
How do you include parents in school and district decision-making? Do you invite parents to be actively involved in their children’s learning? Tell us in the comments.
Looking for an easy way to listen to parents where they are? Start a conversation today.