Whether you are a district leader, principal, or classroom teacher, you interact with parents and families on a daily basis. Effective communications with these audiences is critical to realizing the power and promise of 21st century learning for every student.
Here are 5 tips for improving parent and family engagement
in your school system:
1. Focus on the child.
No parent wants to receive a communication that starts with “According to Ohio Revised Code Section…” The average parent doesn’t really care what the policy is. What they do care about is how the policy is going to affect their child.
2. Use family-friendly language.
Unless a parent is an educator, he/she is probably not familiar with the acronyms and terms commonly used in the education world. Instead of talking about how you are “using formative assessments to differentiate instruction,” talk about how you are gathering information about what students know so you can meet their individual learning needs.
3. Be reassuring and work together.
When a child is having trouble at school, it can be easy for parents to take it personally. Be positive and reassuring when talking to families about an issue with their child. Focus on solutions, and how the school will work together with the family to do what is in the best interest of the student.
4. Give tips for supporting learning at home.
Parents want to help their child be successful, but they don’t always know the best way to help. Regularly send parents tips for reading to their child, how to help with homework, and other ways to support learning at home.
5. Communicate regularly, in multiple ways.
Parents shouldn’t just hear from their child’s superintendent, principal, or teacher at the beginning of the school year or if there is an issue. Make it a point to regularly communicate with the families of your students, and use multiple channels. Send a weekly newsletter or email. Create a regular paper update to mail or send home with students. Make phone calls. Share updates via social media.
Making parent and family engagement a focus will positively impact your students.