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