Parents are a critical part of the learning experience in schools. When schools and parents work together, students have the best outcomes. Having parents involved assists teachers by supporting classroom instruction and school-wide initiatives. Note that this classroom support does not only occur by parents showing up at school, but allows for parents to get creative in the ways in which they are involved.
According to the National PTA, there are a number of benefits to parent involvement including but not limited to:
- Students exhibit more positive attitudes and behaviors.
- Students benefit from the collaboration between school leadership and parents.
- School programming is enhanced.
The benefits above are not an exhaustive list. Parent involvement impacts students and teachers in a number of ways. It is an opportunity for schools to be creative and proactive about ensuring student success.
3 ways students and teachers benefit from parent involvement
Higher Academic Achievement
Teachers are focused on the success of their students. Their time and energy is directed toward advancing the learning outcomes and providing scaffolded instruction. In order to increase the learning outcomes, teachers can leverage the support of parents. Having parents in the classroom or supporting instruction at home is an opportunity to provide targeted support for students. For instance, parents can serve as reading buddies or facilitators for group projects. They can also provide supplemental learning experiences in and outside of the classroom. Support beyond the classroom may include after school activities or volunteering for evening events. This allows the teacher to work on multiple levels for different students.
Better School-to-Parent Communication
Communication between parents, students and teachers is necessary, however it is often one- sided and parents have little opportunity to provide feedback or contribute to the vision or plan for the school.
Creating a practice were parents and teachers are in constant communication helps to build positive relationships and empowers families to engage. PTA events, after-school meetings and other touch points should be a norm in the school community and serve to welcome families. Parents should not have a phone call after an incident of poor behavior choices be the only time they hear from school. Instead there should be organic opportunities to be engaged and responsive to their student’s behavior.
Positive School Culture
Actively advocating for parents to be involved in schools is critical to the learning process. This is an opportunity to show how the school values families as partners and recognizes that each family is an important part of the school community. This sends a message to the students and the school community that all stakeholders are involved in the learning and helps to develop positive attitudes toward the school. Involve parents in positive reward systems, and transparently communicate when students make positive behavior choices to connect the community to the positive school culture.
As school leaders and teachers think about inclusivity, they must also welcome guardians or other family members that identify as parental figures. Students without traditional family structure may feel isolated if only parents are invited to engage. Teachers should be aware of the student’s familial environment, and should find ways to include support for that student.
Parental involvement in schools not only benefits students and teachers but also families. Parents are more connected to the school community and are able to provide better aligned support for their students at home. Parents who are involved are not only advocates for their student but also for larger school initiatives that support the student body.
The increase in school participation also increases in-home support. Parents can align their language and their interactions at home with school practices. Creating these similar structures at home and at school will help the students with their daily activities.
School leaders should welcome parent involvement as much as possible. Leaders can set the expectation for teachers to begin to foster relationships and create unique opportunities for parents to engage. This will nurture and develop relationships and in turn positively impact the student’s learning experience.