With the title above, you may feel like you're heading to the movies, and sometimes, choosing something fun and inviting such as a movie night is just the thing to bring ALL of your parents in. We want our parents involved because we know it makes a difference in the learning of the child, right. Read on to learn about why their involvement matters and what you might try to bring them all in.
I am Carla from Comprehension Connection, and many of my teaching years have been spent working as a Title 1 reading specialist. Parental involvement as we know is an important focus of the Title 1 program. So just why do parents need to be involved, what type of programs give students the biggest benefits, and how can we as educators increase parental involvement for our students?
Before preparing this post, I decided to see what the research says related to parental involvement. I was curious what evidence is available to support the need for parents getting into the classroom, working with students, and helping with school activities and whether all types of parental involvement results in increased student achievement. In Title 1, the focus is on "capacity building" which means involving parents in the support of learning at school and at home. It begins with just bringing families in the front door. Keeping things light and family friendly helps form relationships and establishes trust that we are all on the same team working together for the child. It's so important to begin that in the first week with phone calls home, a welcoming smile and positive comments. Eventually, your staff may consider doing events in the community as well. After a long day at work, many parents would be happy to attend if the event was right next door as opposed to traveling across town with hungry children in tow. You might consider a neighborhood church or community building as the meeting location. Food always helps whether you are at your school or off-site.
Now that your schema about parental involvement is warmed up, how about a little research. G. Olsen shared this information in The Benefits of Parental Involvement: What Research Has to Say on Education.com. I love how the information shows that everyone wins when parents are involved, and I think most readers will find the information helpful.
Henderson and Berla (1994) reviewed and analyzed eighty-five studies that documented the comprehensive benefits of parent involvement in children's education. Here are a few they listed for the children, parents, teachers, and the school.
Benefits for the Children
- Children tend to achieve more, regardless of ethnic or racial background, socioeconomic status, or parents' education level.
- Children generally achieve better grades, test scores, and attendance.
- Children consistently complete their homework.
- Children have better self-esteem, are more self-disciplined, and show higher aspirations and motivation toward school.
Benefits for Parents
- Children's positive attitude about school often results in improved behavior in school and less suspension for disciplinary reasons.
- Parents increase their interaction and discussion with their children and are more responsive and sensitive to their children's social, emotional, and intellectual developmental needs.
- Parents have a better understanding of the teacher's job and school curriculum.
- When parents are aware of what their children are learning, they are more likely to help when they are requested by teachers to become more involved in their children's learning activities at home.
Benefits for Educators
- Parents' perceptions of the school are improved and there are stronger ties and commitment to the school.
- When schools have a high percentage of involved parents in and out of schools, teachers and principals are more likely to experience higher morale.
- Teachers and principals often earn greater respect for their profession from the parents.
- Consistent parent involvement leads to improved communication and relations between parents, teachers, and administrators.
- Teachers and principals acquire a better understanding of families' cultures and diversity, and they form deeper respect for parents' abilities and time.
Benefits for the School
- Teachers and principals report an increase in job satisfaction.
- Schools that actively involve parents and the community tend to establish better reputations in the community.
- Schools also experience better community support.
- School programs that encourage and involve parents usually do better and have higher quality programs than programs that do not involve parents.
In my school division last year, our school board and superintendent introduced Give Me Five as a way to address the need for parental involvement, and I love how this became not just parental involvement, but also student and community involvement as well. The graphic to the left is included on the Parent/Student Overview of our website and is advertised through newsletters and morning announcements at our school. At the same time Give Me Five was rolled out, we also introduced our division motto, "Every Child, by Name and by Need, through Graduation". Together, I believe these symbols send the message that we care about your child, value your family, and want you to be involved.As I mentioned, parental involvement has been a focus for me for many years now. Some events have been more effective than other, but I learned long ago that even the events that seem ineffective at the time may work perfectly with a different age group, at a different time of year, or with a little more planning. Here are a few school-wide ideas you might give a try in your school setting.
If you want a high level of engagement, then this activity works beautifully. It's one of my all-time favorite events. Night for Family Literacy or NFL night has a football theme with a literacy twist. Yes, the children come dressed in their favorite sports team jersey, and we serve the families tailgating foods. With this event, we typically have a performer who incorporates literacy building ideas...using music to work on fluency, reading how-to literature to learn about magic, highlighting favorite books and characters, or singing about comprehension strategies. We've involved the local football team who share why it's important to be a strong student in order to play, and the evening is entertaining for the whole family.
Last year, I had a great time planning a book club for our students. We called it The Magic of Reading Book Club. After all, what child isn't fascinated by magic? I loved this event because all levels of students could participate and learn from each other. The students ended up increasing the amount of reading they did during that period of time, and it involved parents in the running of the clubs. This was helpful to the parents as they were able to hear and see the types of questions that work well for discussion. We basically ran the clubs like literature circles. Students read to a predetermined point, discussed sections of the books, created projects related to the book themes, and enjoyed a guest speaker (magician of course!). I hope to repeat this activity in the future with different themes and book options.
For more parental involvement event ideas, check in tomorrow for Five on Friday. We'll be highlighting other parental involvement events our team has offered to our parents.
As Henderson and Mapp report in A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement ,
"Regardless of family income or background, students whose parents are involved in their schooling are more likely to have higher grades and test scores, attend school regularly, have better social skills, show improved behavior, and adapt well to school."
I think these are all wonderful reasons to reach out, get your parents engaged in your classroom activities, grade-level functions, and school-wide events.
If you have had great success with a special reading or math event, please share it in the comments below. We look forward to the feedback, and so do our fellow readers.