According to a study from Columbia University, regular digital outreach to parents can improve student achievement and attendance. In the study, middle and high school parents received weekly texts about their children’s absences, grades and missed assignments. The result? An 18% increase in students’ attendance and a 39% reduction in course failures.

In addition to helping parents stay informed, you can use text messages to help parents become more involved with their children’s learning at home. A Stanford University study found that when parents of preschoolers were sent weekly text messages with literacy strategies to practice at home, they were 13% more likely to do so. The weekly texts also improved teacher-parent communication and led to higher student literacy scores.

 

Five ways to reach parents in a digital world

The digital age allows schools to foster parent involvement in a variety of new ways. Here are five to try:

  1. Use social media to keep parents informed about school events and news. Use popular channels like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google Plus. In your posts, include a link that will take parents to your school website.
  2. Create online volunteer sign-up forms so it’s easy and convenient for parents to volunteer.
  3. Post videos of teachers providing guidance on how parents can help with certain assignments.
  4. Use online conferencing tools to meet with parents when face-to-face meetings aren’t possible.
  5. Share videos of past family nights and other school events to encourage more parents to attend. Post them on your website or send links through social media.

 

Quote of the Day

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“Parental involvement in schools must move from rhetoric to practice—from telling parents their involvement is encouraged, to guiding them in specific and appropriate ways to assist in their children’s intellectual and social development.”

Center for Family Involvement in Schools, Rutgers University

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Studies consistently show that a positive home environment contributes to student success at school. That’s why it’s important for schools to share information about effective discipline with parents. Remind parents that:

  • Regular schedules and routines, such as scheduled homework time, bedtime and meals, help children develop the independence and self-discipline they need to succeed in school.
  • Effective discipline begins with establishing clear rules and consequences—and enforcing them consistently.
  • Children perform better when they know what is expected of them. When parents set high, yet reasonable expectations, children are more likely to meet those expectations.

 

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Empower bilingual parents to help with homework

While many parents have questions about how best to help their children with homework assignments, bilingual parents often wonder which language they should use to provide that help. Many parents who speak English as a second language want their children to learn English as quickly as possible. They believe that the best way to make that happen is to provide all instruction (including help with homework) in English.

Researchers say this is not the case, however. According to the experts, students who become proficient in their native language first are more likely to then become proficient in English.

Encourage parents to work with their children in their native language and explain why that is important. Then, provide them with the same clear suggestions that you would provide to any English-speaking parent. (If possible, identify other parents in your school who can serve as informal mentors to bilingual parents.)

did-you-know  Did You Know?

Research shows that family-school partnerships can play a significant role in improving students’ social and emotional skills.

S.M. Sheridan and others, “A Meta-Analysis of Family-School Interventions and Children’s Social-Emotional Functioning: Moderators and Components of Efficacy,” Review of Educational Research, American Educational Research Association.

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Show students and their families how cool your school library is by hosting a “Live it up in the library” event. To make the most of the occasion:

  • Invite families for a guided tour of your library.
  • Have your school mascot greet families at the door.
  • Have teachers model how to make reading aloud fun.
  • Have students demonstrate some of your library’s cool features.
  • Allow everyone to check out a book to take home.
  • Send participants home with a bookmark (printed in advance or created by students at a special craft table).

 

A positive attitude increases learning

Researchers believe that teachers can maximize student learning capacities by nurturing positive attitudes in all subject areas. Encourage teachers to:

  • Share their passion for the subjects they teach.
  • Instill the belief in students that they can master any and every subject.
  • Provide meaningful feedback with a focus on what students did right.

 

Quote of the Day

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“Virtually nothing is impossible in this world if you just put your mind to it and maintain a positive attitude.”

Lou Holtz

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February marks Black History Month. Start planning now for special activities to help all students learn more about the accomplishments of African Americans throughout history. Be sure to ask parents for suggestions and help. They could:

  • Visit a classroom to share memories from their lives.
  • Come to school to read books written by or about African American authors.
  • Suggest others in the community who could serve as valuable resources.

 

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Create your own best practices for parent involvement

Who are the experts on involving parents? The people who do it every day. But a teacher who has developed a terrific way to involve parents in homework may not have a way to share that idea with a teacher down the hall or across the district.

Why not create your own collection of best practices on parent involvement? Send out a questionnaire to parent involvement coordinators, teachers and anyone else who might have a strategy for working with parents and involving families. Gather information with the questions below and share it with the educators in your building and district:

  1. What did you do?
  2. Why was it important?
  3. What made it successful?
  4. What was one challenge or barrier you had to overcome as you carried out your strategy?
  5. How did you address that challenge?
  6. What do you plan to do next?

did-you-know  Did You Know?

Every year, HazingPrevention.Org sponsors an essay contest for high school students. The 2020 essay theme is Be Brave. Change the Game. The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2020.

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Student attendance in many districts starts to drop off around this time of year. But some schools have found effective ways to communicate with parents about the importance of making sure their children are in school. To promote attendance:

  • Distribute your attendance policy—again. Print and distribute wallet-sized cards with the basics of the policy.
  • Share facts and figures. Include articles about the importance of attendance in your school newsletter and on your website.
  • Encourage two-way communication. In addition to asking parents to report absences, make sure school staff inform parents as quickly as possible if their child misses class.
  • Celebrate perfect attendance. Print up special forms or cards to send home to families of students with 100% attendance each marking period.

 

Improve parent-teacher communication

Today’s teachers are stressed. And many of them don’t think they have time to communicate with the parents of their students. However, improved parent-teacher communication can actually reduce teachers’ stress levels. Here’s how:

  • It saves time. Consistent communication with parents keeps everyone on the same page and reduces individual questions and concerns. Sure, sending out a weekly email that describes classroom activities and spells out homework assignments takes time. But teachers who do it say it saves them time in the long run.
  • It reduces the likelihood of parent confrontations. Some teachers avoid communicating with parents because they want to avoid confrontations. In fact, it has the opposite effect—parents who don’t hear from you until there’s trouble on the horizon are more likely to start out angry.

 

Quote of the Day

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“Effective listening is the single most powerful thing you can do to build and maintain a climate of trust and collaboration. Strong listening skills are the foundation for all solid relationships.”

Michelle Tillis Lederman

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