Weekend programs for families can boost parent engagement
- The Hayward Unified School District in California began a weekend, dual-generation program in 2015, teaching adults topics from math to poetry, wrote District Administration. Parents involved in the school increased from 1,100 in the 2014-2015 school year to 5,000 in the 2017-2018 school year.
- Weekend programs are also at play in Buffalo, New York, where principals and teachers get paid to teach both parents and students on subjects from cooking to printmaking. In some cases, volunteers come in and run some of the classes.
- The program equalizes the opportunities for all families, letting parents and children from multiple backgrounds share experiences, like going to a museum, together.
Getting parents involved in their children's schooling — and in their child’s school — can be beneficial not just for students, but for parents as well. While teachers are often the ones who create opportunities to involve parents at school, district chief academic officers and curriculum directors can encourage parent engagement by adding educational activities directly into the curriculum.
But it's important to look for the right balance. Schools want a way to engage parents and bring them into the educational process, but at the same time not spark over-involvement — such as helicopter parenting — which could in turn create a negative experience for children, and classroom teachers as well.
For families in which both parents work, and in some cases work multiple jobs, these school activities need to consider that family time may already be stretched. For example, asking parents to come into classrooms — when they may be at an office, or a second job — may instead create more stress, and negate the positive impact that the engagement is designed to generate.
A simple way to include families, particularly in younger grades, is to have children go home with books and ask parents to sit and listen to them read, or read together, according to “The Importance of Teacher/Parent Partnerships.” Making that reading exercise part of the curriculum, engages parents but also doesn’t demand the same time commitment as coming into a classroom during the working day. The Ohio Department of Education also has suggestions on best practices for involving parents, such as surveying parents, to find what their strengths may be, what they may be able to offer a classroom, and also their availability. For class events at school, administrators can also consider offering transportation to school, a meal and child care for younger children.
Parent involvement can be beneficial not just to a child’s educational success, but their emotional one as well. As recently reported, parents involved at the middle school level can reduce the impact of bullying on children. Encouraging family involvement then, is something that administrators can build into curriculum, to support students on their educational path.
- District Administration Dual-generation programs boost parent engagement
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