Several studies have proved it: when parents are actively involved in their children’s education, the child benefits. They’re more likely to earn higher grades, perform better on tests, enrol in more advanced courses and even continue into tertiary education. In addition, having parents be part of the classroom also improves student behaviour.
That’s why this week’s blog rounds up five top tips on getting parents involved. Some are timeless, while others are more part of today’s digital world – where solutions like WinjiGo enhance this dynamic immensely.
1 Start with the students
It can help if parental involvement is – in part – instigated through the students, rather than all just coming from a teacher.
Some simple techniques can get this started. For example, ask your students to draft a parental contract of the things they need their parents to help them achieve: getting enough rest, eating properly, doing homework on a routine, not watching too much TV or spending too long on social media sites, and so on.
2 Go digital
A surprising number of teachers still communicate with parents via flyers and notes home. Equally, many emails are little more than carriers for a PDF of a ‘print’ document.
Possibly the most powerful thing you can do is to change this, completely. Using electronic communication channels – email, SMS, social media, app – is a surefire way to get parents interested and involved. For example, why not set up a ‘homework hotline’ social media group, where parents can ask and answer queries on assignments.
3 Share information often
It used to be that a termly parents evening and end-of-term report was all the teacher/parent interaction a school offered. Not any more. Teachers can – and should – communicate much more frequently.
WinjiGo is ideal for this. They can help you generate and share all kinds of information, from attendance records, to notifying parents when a student has been recognized/rewarded with a badge, to alerting parents to late assignments and so on.
As with any such solution, appropriateness is everything. Be just as wary of over-sharing as under-sharing. And get parents’ consent and enthusiasm for being sent information.
4 Offer parents a classroom session
Why not offer to conduct a class for parents: how to help with homework, how to study for a test, how to motivate their children, how to structure positive behaviour and so on.
Often we just assume parents are equipped to perform these tasks, but – more often than not – parents will welcome the support and advice, and the degree of significance it clearly places on their contribution.
5 Invite volunteers
When parents volunteer, teachers feel they have an ally, and even young children grasp that school matters enough for their parent to give up their time for free!
There are countless ways to make the most of parent volunteers, from tutoring a student to listening to them read, coming on field trips to doing odd jobs around the school.
It’s important you define expectations around volunteering. And that you’re prepared for it to eat up some of your time in organising and managing. Equally, thanking parent volunteers is vital. Let them know that you (and your students) value their contribution, perhaps by creating short videos or photos you email or post on the class blog or Facebook page.