Recommendations for Parents
Become informed about policies/programs
Parents need to learn about specific school policies and programs regarding parent involvement. Find out if programs have been implemented to support these policies and if there is a committee for reviewing school policies and practices in which parents can participate.
Be a decision-maker
Many schools are mandated to provide parents with opportunities to be advisors and decision-makers for school matters. Find out what your school is doing and how you can play an active role.
Learn how to help your child with homework
This is an area where many parents have questions. For example, parents want to know if they should correct their child’s mistakes, or leave them so the teacher can see what the child has learned. Ask for specific guidance from your child’s teacher on how to oversee homework and support learning at home.
Have your voice heard
Few parents have opportunities to share their thoughts and feelings regarding school policies and practices. Suggest that the school conduct surveys and focus groups so that educators can better understand parents’ needs and feelings regarding school policies and practices.
Be your child’s advocate
Parents must assume an active role by immediately seeking out the support of teachers and administrators to help their child. This is especially true if you see a decline in your child’s grades or behavior that might indicate a serious problem.
Research shows that when parents have high expectations, children succeed in school. Let your child know that you value learning and that what happens in school is important. Show that you respect teachers as valued professionals who are helping students achieve important goals.
Have high expectations for your child’s school
Take a close look at your child’s school. As a parent, share with your child’s school the following recommendations on what every school should do.
Recommendations for Schools
Clarify how and why parents can be involved
Many parents don’t know how to initiate involvement in their children’s schools. Schools need to clarify the available opportunities for parents to become involved and how parent involvement can positively impact on their children. This can help parents become better informed consumers and will allow them to more effectively allocate their time and resources.
Provide parents with positive contact about their children
To most parents, calls from their children’s school indicate a problem. Schools should encourage teachers to let parents know when their children are doing well.
Build on existing parent involvement
Many parents attend back-to-school night and school programs in which their children perform. Schools need to build on these opportunities by making meaningful connections with parents at these times, extending invitations for other types of involvement and opening dialogues between parents and school staff.
Examine school policies that may be acting as barriers to parent involvement
Each school should form a team comprised of parents and teachers to discuss existing barriers to parent involvement. Teams need to ask themselves such questions as: Are parents made to feel welcome in the school? Do teachers feel comfortable having parents in their classrooms? Are there clear and meaningful opportunities for parent involvement? Are there language and cultural barriers that need to be addressed? Do some parents need transportation and child care in order to become involved?
Inform parents of behavioral and academic problems in a timely fashion
Parents often feel that schools wait too long before notifying them of problems. They perceive this as a lack of caring on the school’s or teacher’s part. Teachers and administrators need to be sensitive to parents and enlist their support as soon as a problem has emerged.
Offer ongoing professional support and training for teachers in their work with parents
Few teachers receive training in their professional educations on how to create effective school-home partnerships. Therefore, they may need in-service training on working with families in order for parent involvement to be effective.