Why Is Parental Engagement A Necessity?
Are you a school educator who feels the need to improve parental involvement and engagement? You may not be the only person who thinks that. Many other educators share the same opinion.
That said, it does not mean parents are not supportive of their wards. Research has repeatedly shown that parental involvement is the foremost influencing factor for academic success. The degree of parental engagement plays an inevitable role in paving a child’s educational journey.
Parental support at home (especially with online classes being the norm) bridges communication and knowledge gaps. Of late, many educators feel that emails, phone calls, and staggered open houses didn’t produce the desired results. There has to be a better way to keep parents engaged in their child’s educational journey.
Here are some effective tips to ensure that parents are better involved in their ward’s school life.
Proven Strategies To Boost Parental Engagement
Use digital tools for communication
There is no point in not leveraging technology to stay in touch with parents bogged down with personal and professional commitments. Many schools like Babaji Vidhayshram School, use myriad digital tools and resources to:
- Inform parents of their children’s academic and extracurricular progress.
- Meet parents who cannot attend PTA meetings in person
- Inform parents of school activities (through blogs and school newsletters)
- Share timetables, assignments, attendance. exam schedules, and grades
- Provide constructive feedback and remedial suggestions for parents
Using digital tools, you can provide parents with a complete picture of their child’s academic performance. It will also help parents get more involved and provide support to children at home.
Encourage extracurricular attendance
Any involvement is welcome as long as parents are there for their wards. Many of them are passionate about their child’s extracurriculars. Many children, too, show more inclination towards extracurricular activities than academics.
As a teacher, you can capitalise on this common interest to get parents involved. Besides, meeting parents in a non-formal setup like the playground will instill better interaction. Above all, your presence at these events conveys your care and concern for students, which is what all parents want.
Conduct interest-based PTA meetings
Let’s face the truth: Open houses are tedious and time-consuming, especially for teachers. Besides, some parents don’t bother attending traditional open houses. What then is the point of sitting in school all day, waiting for parents who hardly turn up?
The trick to improving parent attendance is to conduct programs focused on a smaller parent population. You can also make it topic or theme-based. IB schools like International Village School, conduct personalised open-houses. Meetings are often centred around a particular interest that parents find useful. Such interest-based open houses generate a good attendance rate amongst parents.
Leverage social media platforms
Parents are as involved with social media as their children. In fact, everyone responds better to social media than other means of communication. You can set up a dedicated social media account to:
- Connect with parents and update them about school events
- Direct parents to the school website to gain more information
- Allow parents to discuss issues related to school, homework, etc.
Host special events for parents
Why restrict parental involvement only to open house days when you have several other occasions to invite them over to school? If you want to improve parental engagement, you have to make them feel like they are integral to your school community. Here are some good ideas:
- Invite parents to participate in festival celebrations like Diwali, Holi, and Christmas
- Host a volleyball or basketball game for interested parents to participate in
- Conduct cooking competitions, fancy fetes, and exhibitions
- Invite entrepreneurial parents to put up stalls in exhibitions
Such events allow parents to connect with teachers, visit classrooms, and generally know how things are going on in school.
Ask parents to volunteer
You will be surprised to know how many parents are waiting to grab an opportunity to get involved with their ward’s school activities.
Having parents volunteer enables them to learn how school activities are conducted. Ask them to enlist for sports day! Invite them to assist you in school excursions and picnics.
Seek their professional help when your school needs it- be it for medical advice, interior decoration, etc. Parents will also feel more comfortable interacting with you. They will also actively seek guidance and advice on how to better support their child’s educational progress.
Help parents overcome cultural barriers
Parents’ engagement with teachers is impacted significantly by cultural and linguistic barriers. Many parents may not be proficient in English. Language barriers make it difficult to communicate and express their concerns effectively. As teachers, it is critical to recognise certain cultural factors that can affect parents’ ability to communicate with you. Here are some efforts you can make to overcome cultural barriers:
- Get sensitivity training
- Initiate conversations in the language that the parent is comfortable with (if you know the language)
- Conduct home visit (on parents’ consent) to foster a better rapport
- Communicate online to help parents shed their inhibitions
- Ask the child or another parent to translate conversations
Use Google Voice
Parents are more digitally-inclined than you think they are. Many of them respond to tools like Google Voice than to emails. Using Google Voice is a win-win situation for you and the parents. Parents can easily track assignments, homework completions, and exam scores.
On the other hand, teachers can connect with parents when they have the time. They can also turn off Google Voice when they are busy in school or at home. With a single Google Account, teachers can connect with parents via texting, thereby saving time and energy.
Parental Involvement: A Mandatory Responsibility
Parents and guardians are unquestionably critical stakeholders in their children’s education. Their involvement and engagement contribute greatly to their ward’s success.
Parental involvement profoundly influences our children’s behaviour and academic achievements. It is also an important way to give children a safe place to rely on. Above all, for the teaching community, parental engagement simplifies their job and motivates them to do better.