Here are some ways you can engage families at your school.
1. Seek Feedback
Administer a survey or school assessment. Invite the parents and guardians to share their priorities and concerns about their children’s educational experience. This is a great way to begin involving families in school matters. In the survey, invite them to list any skills or contributions they would like to share with the school community. Using the information provided, schools can provide families with volunteer opportunities that match their skills and interests.
2. Encourage Involvement
To encourage family involvement, you can offer resources on parenting as well as supplementary educational resources that support home learning. This information can be shared via a school or classroom newsletter, social media, or in-person workshops. You can also make it more convenient for parents to participate in events by asking them to help with activities that can be done outside of working hours. Maybe you need help fundraising, coordinating activities, planning events, or getting more volunteers.
3. Educate and Inform
Let’s face it, as teachers we are expected to implement a lot of materials and these materials must align to the grade–level expectations we need to meet. Sometimes these resources, standards, and curriculum can be overwhelming for families. This can discourage involvement because they simply don’t feel like they know what’s happening. Keep families informed. Remember, knowledge is power. If parents don’t know what their child is learning or expected to learn, how will they help them?
- Host a curriculum night at the start of each school year to give an overview of what you’re teaching
- Give the parents a “Standards Cheat Sheet” so they can better support children at home.
- Offer homework help in the form of videos, problem examples, a photocopy of the notes from the lesson
- Communicate regularly about progress and concerns around core curriculum and offer ways families can support learners at home
This is probably the most important part of family engagement. It’s something that has to be done on an ongoing basis to ensure you continue to keep families connected and engaged in learning.
5. Communication Tools
- Use social media to send messages and updates.
- Create a Padlet Wall for parents to ask questions, share resources, and give updates. This is a great tool for communicating back and forth and sharing resources with families.
6. Video Tools
- Educreations, Flipgrid, or Screencastify can be used as a video communication tool for students, teachers, and families.
- Record videos, weekly announcements, or share links of student–created videos so parents can see their student.
- Use video tools as a way for each student to introduce their family at the beginning of the year.
7. Blogging/Class Webpage
- Put out a weekly blog post about the activities completed during the week.
- Feature students in your blogs by including a section that is written by a student.
- Use the blog as a way to support families with homework, difficult projects, or upcoming events.
8. School and Community
- Invite families to events like Back to School Night, STEM Night, or Bingo Night. There are so many ways to get families involved and have a little fun outside of the classroom.
- Invite families in for Culture Night and feature families from different cultures.
- Invite family members with local businesses to participate in discounts, showcases, career night, etc.
As you can see, there are many strategies schools can use to keep families informed and involved. The key is to find the way to not only make an initial connection and build the “family–to–school” partnership but to engage families and continue to collaborate and grow together. These connections will lead to the creation of solid and supportive relationships between school and home, which will promote student achievement and enhance your students’ sense of belonging.
I’m currently a Marketing Manager with hand2mind living in the greater Chicago area. I’m a former teacher and taught both 2nd and 6th grade math. I also spent many years as a math coach and had the pleasure of working with school districts across the country. In addition to my experience in education, I’m the mother of 2 girls ages 10 and 4. I rely on my experiences as both a teacher and a parent to write as I know many of our readers have experience with both! In my free time I coach my daughter’s softball team and spend a lot of time outdoors! I also enjoy rolling my sleeves up and tackling many DIY projects around the house!