How to Encourage Parent Engagement at Your School

Written By Guest Blogger: Lisa Montierth

Parent engagement at school does so many great things for the community. Teachers have better morale, students are more interested, and parents even report feeling more confident and satisfied when they are engaged at their children’s school. Schools achieve more in every way, leading to happier, more successful teachers and students.

Getting parents involved at school isn’t always easy. Everyone feels too busy these days, and when parents are already feeling stretched thin, they will be less likely to volunteer their time. But don’t despair; if you’re seeing a lack of parent engagement in your classroom, try these strategies to give it a boost:

Celebrate the small commitments.

Some parents may worry that if they get involved, every time a volunteer is needed, they’ll be first on the list to call. Some parents only have a limited amount of free time to dedicate to volunteering, and they may dread being called on to do more than they can.

Parents who would be more than happy to volunteer an hour or two may feel uncomfortable voicing these concerns, and end up not volunteering at all just to avoid the situation. Soothe their worries by making it okay for parents to volunteer any amount of time they can. Suggest a few different volunteer activities that take up varying amounts of time, so parents can see that there are opportunities for everyone, both big and small.

Take the lead and make suggestions.

One of the biggest reasons that parents don’t get involved? It’s simple: They just don’t know what to do! This uncertainty can lead to feeling uncomfortable at school, and discourage parents from participating. That means they are looking to you for support and suggestions.

Give parents specific information about getting involved. They need to know how to get the ball rolling on an after-school carnival, who to call about the fundraiser, and what they should expect when they show up to read at the library.

Make it enjoyable.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise: some parents avoid volunteering because it’s not very fun! Everyone has different preferences, so work with parents to find activities that they will enjoy. Show your appreciation. Remind them that they are making a valuable contribution to the school and to their child’s education. Parents are like everyone – they just want to feel appreciated!

Use tech to connect.

When it comes to parental engagement, communication is key. In today’s society, communication increasingly means reaching parents and students online and on mobile. Luckily, you have LivingTree.

LivingTree is a great way to get parents together on the same page. Use the flexibility and technology of our platform to ask for volunteers, take suggestions about activities, and send out the call for supplies. When parents have a direct line of communication with you, they will feel more comfortable and excited about getting involved.

More resources for parent engagement:

Families Matter: Engaging Families to Strengthen Community

Strategies for Involving Parents in School Health

Afterschool: A Key to Successful Parent Engagement

 

How to Successfully Engage with Your Child’s Classroom

Written by Guest Blogger:  Lisa Montierth

As parents, there’s nothing that we wouldn’t do to help our kids succeed. All week we tow them to and from school, lessons, and clubs, happily trading in our valuable time to help enrich theirs, all without blinking an eye.

So if you knew there was a way to help your child dream bigger, have better self-esteem, and enjoy school more, you’d probably do it in a heartbeat. Luckily, these benefits can easily be achieved – just by getting involved at your child’s school.

Being more involved in the classroom has so many benefits, and not just for your child; parental involvement benefits the whole class, the teachers, the school… it even benefits you!

Research has shown that when parents participate in the classroom, children are more likely to achieve more, get better grades, complete their homework, increase their self-discipline, and have a more positive attitude about school. Parental involvement boosts school morale and teacher satisfaction, leading to improved communication and more respect between teachers and parents. And the benefits extend to parents as well.

Parents gain confidence, become more responsive, and positively interact with their children more when they become involved in the classroom. They are more in tune with their child’s development, and their relationships with their children often become more affectionate, leading to the use of positive reinforcement rather than punishment in the home.

So: Parent engagement in the class leads to happier kids, more satisfied teachers, and better schools. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But it gets a little trickier when you remember that sometimes just finding the time to get dinner on the table every night is a major accomplishment!

The secret to successful and sustainable classroom involvement is being honest about what you can take on. It’s okay to make it easy on yourself. Sign up for things that you will genuinely enjoy, and don’t give in to any nagging doubts about what you “should” be doing at school. The National Parent-Teacher Association says that even three hours of school volunteer work per year can make an impact.

Being realistic about what you can do sets you up for success, and makes the experience much more enjoyable for everyone. Try one of these ways to get involved at school:

– Love reading and books? Offer to be a class reader or volunteer at the school library.

– Are you a secret drama or music star? Assist with an extracurricular club for the arts.

– Did you grow up playing soccer? Help out with a school sports program.

– Have a love of learning? Volunteer to tutor or work in the computer lab.

– Still don’t know have the slightest idea where to start? Just ask! Teachers will likely have plenty of ways that you can help out, from a bit of classroom organization to a big project like planning and attending a field trip. (Don’t forget, LivingTree makes parent/teacher communication a breeze!)

LivingTree Selected as Preferred Parent Engagement Platform

Houston Independent School District Selects LivingTree as Preferred Parent Engagement Platform

LivingTree recommended as the online and mobile platform of choice for K-8

Houston Independent School District, in an effort to promote deeper parent communication and involvement, has tested and now officially endorses LivingTree, a cutting edge web and mobile platform aimed at driving transparency and dialogue with parents. LivingTree’s private, secure platform has been recommended as the preferred tool for elementary and middle school parent-teacher engagement.

“In a continued effort to help increase educational output, we are partnering with LivingTree to provide a unique set of collaboration and coordination capabilities to our schools, teachers, and families,” said HISD Family and Community Engagement General Manager, Alejandro Morua. “We all know the importance of parent and family engagement in our school communities and what that engagement means for the children we educate. At FACE (HISD’s Family and Community Engagement group), our mission is clear – to enhance this Family and Community Engagement across our District community. We have already seen tremendous success with the LivingTree platform in many of our schools, and with its communication translation support in over 40 languages as well as iPhone and Android support, we are excited about the opportunity to bring greater transparency and family engagement into all of our school and classroom communities.”

LivingTree’s unique, private and secure digital platform allows for principals to communicate to staff and parents by class, grade level, or entire school with the sending and acceptance of a single invitation. PTAs and other groups (home room parent networks, etc.) can set up additional networks alongside their schools allowing the school to truly be the anchor point of the private community, providing a single, central place for the school, teachers, and parents to communicate, share photos, files, links, calendars, manage volunteers, and send private messages.

LivingTree is available through the web, as well as its iPhone and Android application.  By enabling translation support in over 40+ languages, LivingTree breaks down the language barriers so our educational leaders can be assured that all parents can have greater access, transparency and engagement in the lives of their children’s education.

“We’re excited by the HISD recommendation and thrilled with our continued alliance with HISD schools. It’s been a privilege to watch engagement and transparency grow within the HISD community,” said Cullen Childress, CEO and co-founder of LivingTree.

About HISD:

The Houston Independent School District is the largest school district in Texas and the seventh-largest in the United States with 282 schools and nearly 210,000 students. The 334-square-mile district is one of the largest employers in the Houston metropolitan area with more than 25,000 employees. For more information, visit the HISD Web site at www.houstonisd.org.

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