A longstanding debate in education centers around what might be the most accurate predictor of academic achievement for students. It turns out it is not socioeconomic status, parent education, or how prestigious the school is that a child attends.
According to the National Parent Teacher Association (2000), “The best predictor of student success is the extent to which families encourage learning at home and involve themselves in their child’s education.”
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When parents are engaged in their children’s lives at school, students know they have the home support and knowledge they need to not only finish their work, but to apply that skill as they develop a lifelong love of learning.
Strengthen Family Engagement
Building strong relationships and engaging with families can help students see teachers as adults they can trust. When teachers work with colleagues to develop a consistent state of engagement, this becomes the focus of the entire staff. When parents are engaged, they make a commitment to work together in collaboration with the school.
Here are 6 strategies for schools to consider as a part of their family engagement system.
Ensure Families Have a Voice in School Decision-Making
Shared decision making, or working together to make decisions, is a key component of trauma informed care. Ensure families have a voice by inviting them to participate in key decision making processes and encourage them to take a role in decisions that affect their child.
Recognize and Consider Biases
Every person carries biases based on their beliefs and lived experiences. It is important to ensure that mindsets are nurtured so that negative archetypes and ideas don’t disrupt providing equity in schools. School staff must do intentional work to assess their bias towards parents and students.
Provide Regular, Accessible and Real-time Communication
With communication now being possible 24/7 families have come to expect timely updates about their child’s progress, while new technologies like instant messaging apps and family portal platforms have made it possible for teachers to communicate in real time with families. Understanding these expectations and preferred communication methods enables schools to create an effective communication strategy to meet the needs of both families and teachers.
Strengthen Family Capacity by Offering Targeted Support
There are many reasons families choose to engage or disengage with school. Scheduling conflicts, transportation, and lack of access to technology can all impact engagement. Help strengthen family capacity by reaching out, listening and gathering perspectives about challenges and personal needs. Meet parents where they are by developing solutions together, connecting families to community resources and providing parental support to guide children’s learning and development.
Train families on available tools
While children are growing up in a digital world, advances in technology can make it a challenge for parents and families to keep up. Schools can improve family engagement by offering training and technical assistance on digital tools, online platforms, video conferencing and communication platforms. Better yet, involve students in leading workshops to educate their families about social media platforms and new technologies like Zoom, Kickboard and Google Tools.
Host Family Engagement Activities
Give parents, caregivers and families regular opportunities to engage by hosting family engagement events. Consider disseminating a school calendar at the beginning of the year with regularly scheduled events and activities families can participate in throughout the year. Provide regular reminders through different means of communication and be sure to be clear about what they need to do to participate.
Here are a few ideas on family engagement activities:
- Parent Learning Workshops
- Summer Enrollment Day
- Open House
- Report Card Conferences
- Daddy Daughter Dances
- Mother’s Day Celebrations
- Mystery Guest Reader Morning
- Breakfast with the Principal
- Family Fun Night
- Reward Ceremonies
- Talent Shows
For more strategies to help prepare you for next school year, explore our free guide, Returning to School: 10 Crucial Steps for a Positive School Culture.