Are you an administrator looking to improve your school climate, enhance student performance, or reduce negative behaviors? Boosting family engagement may be the key!
Research demonstrates the benefits of family engagement in schools. Increased engagement leads to improved performance, behavior, and attendance. It also motivates students and results in higher test scores. Additionally, many experts consider family engagement “the key to addressing the school dropout crisis.”
If you’re unsure how to increase family involvement, start with the tips below!
Top Tips for Boosting Family Engagement in Schools
1. Communicate often.
Most importantly, you and your staff must view families as partners in learning. Encourage teachers to communicate regularly with parents. Emphasize that parents should not only be contacted in the case of bad behavior. Celebrate successes too! Send a quick e-mail to let parents know when their children master a new skill, perform well on a test, or even do a good deed.
In addition to e-mail, technology provides ample opportunity to keep parents in the loop. Update your school’s website regularly, and consider sending out a newsletter. You may also have a Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram for your school. Apps like Remind allow for quick, convenient communication.
Whenever possible, include families in shared decisions about their child’s education. Listen and learn from parents. Respond promptly to questions and concerns. Additionally, send climate surveys that encourage active participation. When parents feel like valued members of the school community, engagement will skyrocket.
2. Be inclusive.
Regardless of background, treat all families equally and respectfully. Ensure that all visitors are greeted with warmth and courtesy. Parents and other family members should always feel comfortable and supported at your school.
Provide information in diverse languages. When offering events, consider varying times and locations. This accommodates more families and allows everyone to participate.
3. Offer family events.
Host events such as:
- Family art festivals
- Family game nights
- Fatherhood initiatives
- Grandparent breakfasts
- Math/reading nights
- Parent meetings
- Chili cook-offs
- Themed events, like these fall activities
Get creative! The event itself doesn’t matter. It’s all about creating a fun, welcoming environment for families. These events also allow you to impart valuable knowledge and skills to your family partners. For instance, tell families how they can extend their child’s learning at home.
Alternatively, ask families what they need from you. How can you be helpful? Perhaps parents would like a workshop on managing test anxiety. Elementary schools may give advice on transitioning to middle school. Meanwhile, high schools can hold workshops on college and career readiness, financial aid, writing resumes, and more.
4. Recruit volunteers and offer resources.
Invite parents to share their skills and talents with the school. Establish a PTA advisory, policy council, school improvement planning team, and so on. One effective strategy is to ask parent leaders to recruit additional parent volunteers.
In return, offer resources to the families at your school. For example, many schools have food pantries for families in need. Others offer backpacks full of school supplies to families who can’t afford them. Schools routinely provide affordable or free physicals for student athletes. Find community partners willing to help out. The more services and support your can offer, the more welcome and invested families will feel.
Boosting Family Engagement: Final Thoughts
To increase family participation, promote a positive, welcoming school culture. Treat families with respect, provide resources, and offer fun, helpful family events. Communicate regularly, and encourage parents to voice their concerns. Make your school a place that families want to be.
Remember, boosting family engagement boosts the overall “health” of your school. You’ll have happier teachers, parents, and students. Students will work harder, behave better, and excel academically. If you want to improve your school, start by improving your relationships with parents and families!