Ideas for schools

Activities to Involve Parents and Families In School

  • Hold parent literacy nights where families spread blankets out on the floor and listen to stories. One school served a free dinner and talked about comprehension strategies.
  • Hold a similar night, with Science as the focus.
  • Create a reading incentive program where students log what books they read and then receive a free book based on participation.
  • To connect with parents, one principal set up a parent meeting in a room at the low income housing complex where their students lived. It was much easier for parents to attend the meeting.
  • Participate in National African American Parent Involvement Day.
  • Have a school carnival and make sure everyone has the opportunity to be involved.
  • Host an International dinner that gives students an opportunity to share their culture.
  • Help ESL parents organize an open house and ice cream social.
  • Invite Head Start parents to school events, before their students start school.
  • Call parents who have not come to special events in the past, to extend a personal invitation to an upcoming event.
  • Teachers create E-boards on the Internet that parents can access that outlines information about what is going on in the classroom.
  • Send home materials translated to the languages spoken by families at home. Offer parenting classes in those languages as well.
  • Host a back to school picnic where teachers and parents serve hot dogs on the playground.
  • Teachers hold drop in “office hours” with parents and students at McDonalds or a coffee shop before school starts. This gives teachers, parents and students an opportunity to meet in a small setting before school starts.
  • Invite Kindergarten and first grade families to dinner meetings throughout the year. Order pizza, play math games (purchased with Title I funds) and read books.
  • Institute the Light Span program with the goal of increasing the use of technology in homes. They installed old TVs for parents who did not have them and parents had to sign a contract saying they would take care of the equipment. It was a very powerful symbol, proving that schools trusted child and family. Play stations, CDs and educational game packets are sent home every week.

Using technology to connect with parents

It is more difficult to connect with some parents because in some cultures it is not common for parents to be involved with schools. One school sends notices and newsletters to homes electronically. They include links to translator sites. As a result, they have seen an increase in parental involvement. Because the email is translated, it is easier for parents to read school news

The school surveys parents to find out how useful the newsletter is. Most parents (96%) said they read it. They set up electronic newsgroups by grade so they can send out electronic reminders for events such as conferences. The principal surveyed international parents to ask what they wanted to know. Parents wanted to know what the items on the lunch menu were. The principals was then able to give them a description of each dish.

“Relationships between teachers and parents are so important. It is an intangible skill and hard to teach people how to get along with people”