Get Parents and Families More Involved in Our Elementary School
It’s becoming more and more difficult to get parents involved in their children’s school, but the success of the school and their child depends on parents’ involvement. So, how do school professionals get parents and entire families to participate in the life of their school? It’s not always easy, but here are some steps you can take to build parent interest in your school:
Set up a website for my school.
Information that should be included: parent link (see below), announcements, fundraiser updates, lunch menus, school closings, PTA updates, teacher and staff contact numbers and email addresses, and pictures from school events.
Tip: Assign a professional administrative assistant to keep the site updated: daily is ideal, weekly is good, monthly is the minimum. Companies like Edline can provide templates and design support.
Set up a parent link on my school's website.
This can be used by parents and students to look up grades, homework assignments, and attendance records.
Get connected to my school's PTA.
Work with the PTA to offer a variety of activities throughout the year. Elementary school kids love events like winter carnival, pancake breakfasts (prepared by the parents), bike rallies, family picnics, open houses, and family fitness night, just to name a few. Work with your PTA Board to find out which events can be done each year and what help they need from the administration.
Hold PTA meetings at the same time and day every month.
Work with your PTA Board to set a monthly date and time that works well for the majority of the people. If the meetings are set at the beginning of the year and parents know when to expect those meetings each month, they can plan accordingly and not have to rearrange their schedules at the last minute.
Bright Idea: Offer free babysitting at your PTA meetings to encourage attendance. Check with your local high schools for older students who are in need of service hours and hire them for free!
Tip: Bring in community experts at the beginning of each meeting to discuss things like bullying, nutrition, special education, school bond issues, and other important topics.
Host a family reading night at least once a year.
Have each teacher choose a favorite book they would like to read to families. Invite parents and kids through newsletters, email, and the school website, and list which book each teacher will read.
Tip: Offer cookies and punch in the cafeteria or gymnasium at the beginning of the evening to encourage parents and kids to mingle with other families and staff.
Host a family game night at least once a year.
Kids love board games, and they may not get a chance to plan them at home as often as they would like. Bring parents and kids to the school and offer a variety of games, including Chess, Checkers, Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, Trouble, and any other games that are age appropriate. Ask kids to bring in some of their games from home to be sure there are enough games for everyone to play.
Give students extra credit points if their parents attend parent-teacher conferences.
And make sure the parents are aware of this "extra credit."
Suggest that teachers create homework assignments that involves the entire family.
For example, for a math lesson involving maximum, minimum, median, and mode, ask the student to use the ages of everyone living in his or her home. In social studies, have each student interview extended family that lives outside of his or her hometown and write a summary about where the family members live.
Ask for classroom volunteers at the beginning of the year.
Some parents may be unsure about how they can help in the classroom. Have a parent meeting at the beginning of school and pass around a sign-up sheet for volunteers. Let parents know how much you depend on volunteers in your classroom and how much it helps the kids.
Tip: Get the names of the parents who volunteered and send them a "thank you" note. Get the names of those who signed up to volunteer but didn't, and follow up with them. Find out if something prevented their volunteering and address it if you can.
Encourage teachers to send home weekly grade updates that require a parent's signature.
Especially in upper elementary, these can be helpful for everyone: parents, students, and teachers. If a child is falling behind, the parent will know early on that he or she needs to contact the teacher right away.
Create a team of highly involved parents and ask them to personally invite non-participating parents to school events.
This is especially important if your school hosts an open house in the fall. You can start the year off right by getting a large group of parents to the first event of the year. Parent "mentors" can offer to meet new parents at events so they will have someone to talk to.
Tip: Give each family member a raffle ticket as they enter the open house, and have one adult prize and one child prize. Be sure to mention the raffle when you call to invite them to the open house.
Start a "student of the week" program.
Encourage students to bring in pictures of themselves and their families to display on their classroom bulletin board. Ask the student of the week to write a paragraph that describes his or her life (including family life). If possible, allow each student to bring in a special person (preferably a parent) for "show and tell" during his or her special week.
invite people to welcome event
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