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January 22, 2018

3 Tips for Increasing Family Engagement

Written By: Stephanie DeLussey

The beginning of the school year is an exciting whirlwind for everyone. There’s a lot of paperwork between home and school communicating what’s going on and when.

And somewhere in-between the haste of the holiday season and the New Year, we all get busy. Teachers. Parents. Admin. Kids. We are all busy.

It’s not that any of us are forgetful or purposefully absentminded, we are honestly all so busy.

Seriously, tell me that I am not alone in placing my coffee cup somewhere and not remembering where I put it… 10 minutes later?! #wereallinthistogether

But parent involvement and family engagement is something that is so easy, it doesn’t need to be forgotten or put on the back burner.

For real ya’ll, parents are our most important assets in learning more about our students and it’s so important to keep parents in the know! Parents can be our biggest advocates, at home and at school.

Sometimes parents are not involved in a child’s school life because they don’t know what opportunities are available to them, or even how to ask for help.

Here are 3 tips that any educator or administrator can use to be proactive and to increase parent involvement in the classroom, school, and community.

Tip #1 – Communicate with parents.

I know, this one may seem like a no-brainer, but hear me out. The traditional notes can work. But notes home get lost and papers never leave the backpack sometimes. Life is busy.

So how do you stay in contact with parents in a way that is easiest for them? Communicate with parents via technology… because who doesn’t have a phone or tablet these days?.

Seesaw and RemindHQ are two services that I have heard of and seen implemented effectively by teachers.

According to Seesaw, it is a “…a digital portfolio that gives you real-time glimpses into your child’s school day. Seesaw helps you stay in the loop and gives you an opportunity to support your child’s learning at home.”

One of the neat things about Seesaw is that the students can post work to the app and send their parent a picture of what they are working on. This is great for sending parents quick updates on IEP goal progress or simply informing parents of how great a child performed on a task.

Remember, more positive interactions!

RemindHQ allows the teacher to communicate with the parent quicker and more efficiently by sending messages right to the parent’s phone. Send text messages, photos, voice messages and videos, and schedule reminders. But the best part… messages can be translated into more than 70 languages.

Tip #2 – Recommend resources that actually work.

Each school year there is one parent who wants work sent home for their child to do. It never fails. And that is fantastic! Parents asking for help and encouraging their child to learn at home is a check in the positive column, and we should never discourage that. Ever.

But I know how busy you are. I know all of the paperwork you have to do already, the meetings, the duties, the lesson planning for the school day. I get it. Where in the world are you going to find time to plan for a child’s home life too?

Really Good Stuff. Seriously.

RGS has phenomenal Family Engagement kits that you can recommend to for parents. These kits piggyback skills that children are working on at school.

The Family Engagement kits are carefully chosen, including fun, standards-based materials to help families practice important skills and develop a love of learning. All the tools a parent will need are included in the pack, like tips to help and aide in meaningful family engagement where learning begins – at home!

You can view all of the Family Engagement packs that RGS has to offer here.

Tip #3 – Ask parents to volunteer in your classroom.

When parents pitch in to help in their child’s classroom, the child wins. And so does the teacher because we get an extra pair of hands to help.

If you aren’t sure where to start with having parent volunteers, here are a few ideas:

  • Parents listening to their child read during a special reading time 1x a week or biweekly
  • Secret reader (you know, where a parent signs up to read during story time, but none of the students know who is coming in that day… and if parents can’t make it IN the classroom physically, try Skype or another live video streaming service)
  • Helping organize classroom parties or field trips
  • Preparing materials for your classroom (at home or at school… because who couldn’t use help laminating all of the things)
  • School tutoring programs
  • PTO or PTA
  • For special days, like Fun Food Friday or science experiments
  • Helping change out seasonal or monthly bulletin boards
  • Organize your classroom library
  • Sharpening pencils (this can be at home or in school)

This list can go on and on. Parent volunteer doesn’t need to look like the traditional “parent teaching kids”… so admin take this list of ideas to your administrator to get the ball rolling today.

Teachers + Parents = TEAM. Partnering with families maximizes each and every student’s success. How will you be a part of it?

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