Involving Parents

Parent involvement is a key component in an effective school. Unfortunately, many struggling schools do not get the type of support from the homes of their students to support the initiatives that they would like to develop. This creates a dilemma since parents are not subject to the school’s authority. So, what can schools do to boost this very critical component of student development?

First, schools can be flexible in their outreach efforts to parents. Traditional methods like PTA meetings held on the same night of the week every month at a time that fits educators schedule may not fit the diverse needs of parents. Parents who do not have post-secondary degrees may have to work “shift” jobs that may not allow them to attend this critical meeting. Also, moving critical parent meetings to alternative sites like community centers and local churches, etc. may boost participation.

Successful schools operate under the assumption that parents want their children to be successful. Problems arise when parents do not know how to create this positive outcome. The problem is exacerbated when the parent themselves had a negative experience in school as a child. So, simply gathering a group of parents for school events may not address the critical home/school partnership issue. My research has found that schools that focus on precisely what they want parents to contribute in this partnership, and organize their efforts to educate parents on strategies that they could use at home to support their children, get great returns.