Involved parents are a key component to student engagement and success and are one of a teacher’s most valuable resources. Keeping parents meaningfully involved in classroom activities, especially in the last few months of the school year, can be a challenge. So consider some of these options for finishing the school year strong with your students and their parents!
- Keep Communication Clear, Concise, and Consistent - Just like you, parents have busy inboxes and junk mail piles they need to wade through. If your communication is too long, too confusing, or inconsistent, it’s very likely it will get lost in the shuffle. Try to send out a quick email on the same day each week that follows a consistent, predictable format. Give a recap of the week, a preview of the next week, and any needs you have for volunteers, supplies, or chaperones.
- Know your Audience - Be sure you know what your parents need to feel like a valued member of your classroom family. Make it part of your regular practice to check in with families in a personal way. A phone call or an email with a positive observation about their child can go a long way to making a family feel valued. Try to learn as much as you can about what your families might need in order to be more involved. For example, if they are English Language Learners themselves, be sure to tap into the expertise of your ELL/ESL Coordinator and any resources he or she might have for the family. If family members might be working night shifts, be respectful of their schedules and plan phone calls and conferences at a time that works best for them.
- Many Parents, Many Opportunities - Any classroom is composed of a wide variety of talents and learning styles. The same holds true for our students’ parents and guardians. When thinking of involvement opportunities, be sure to offer something for everybody. Consider grouping volunteer opportunities into categories based on the time commitment they might take. For example, an after-school homework club would be an ongoing obligation for a parent who is comfortable working directly with students whereas another parent might be interested in a more “behind the scenes” role such as providing treats for an upcoming celebration or helping you set up your classroom blog. Brainstorm a list of what ideas and needs you have and share them with your students’ families. Be sure to make the description of the opportunity clear and list the best way for them to contact you if they are interested.
By keeping parents informed and by offering a wide variety of involvement opportunities you are sure to keep your students’ parents involved and active in your classroom happenings which is a win-win situation for both you and your students!
Let us know some ways you keep parents involved in your classroom. Share in the comments section below.