Tips to Get Parents Involved!

In a community of hundreds of parents, do you feel like you are always working with the same handful of dedicated individuals? Instead of getting frustrated, get empowered! Use the same tactics that other groups and business use to cut through the background noise and get your message heard by your parent community.

Here are some pearls that will help improve your communication with parents and their awareness of how they can contribute to their child’s experience at school.

  • The first step in improving parent involvement is to be sure that you build your communication network.  A great way to do this is at open house, be sure you collect name, cell phone and email addresses of both PTA/PTO members.  DO NOT exclude formal members when trolling for great volunteers.  Although they are sometimes reluctant to officially join, many parents can and will participate in volunteer events
  • Be sure parents, grandparents and other caregivers know they’re genuinely invited to attend parent organization meetings. When possible, make invitations personal and give examples, by name, how other parents are making an impact..
  • Focus on the strengths of families and make ways to get involved personal —they know their children better than anyone else. Find ways to get parents involved in activities that they and their family thinks are fun and important
  • Set up an ice cream social as a PTA membership drive or volunteer night to recruit, recognize or train volunteers.
  • Have a “sneak and peek” program (similar to Kindergarten orientation) for a tour of campus and to see things families often miss on traditional open house night (i.e. music, P.E., Media Center, Computer labs, front office, etc.).
  • Encourage office all employees to be friendly to parents or individuals that arrive at the school. Train staff on customer service strategies.
  • Create a cadre of parents to serve as ambassadors on the first days of school. These parents can help with the huge task of orienting other parents, new students and hallway or cafeteria issues.
  • Have a parent discussion at Open House to determine ways parents (and Parent Groups) can help students (other than raising money). Discuss specific ways parent involvement correlates into student achievement.
  • Follow-up is so important. Send “thank you” memos or cards to parents that attend a meeting, open house or workshop. For those parents that were unable to attend, send a “Sorry we missed you….” note or email to determine what the school can do to help them attend the next meeting.
  • Recognize great efforts. Create banners or signs stating attendance percentage of parents that attended a workshop, open house or meeting. This can also be used to recognize teacher, staff and parent membership in PTA.
  • As much as possible, refer to parents by name rather than “mom” or “dad.”
  • Send multiple reminders about upcoming events, workshops or meetings. Use flyers, emails, school Web site, personal phone calls, text messages via cell phones, newsletters, school marquee, etc.
  • Make teachers, office staff and other employees aware of parent meetings so that anyone who is asked will know the information.
  • Encourage students to “encourage” parents to attend school functions. Spend time explaining the importance of parent involvement to students
  • Organize and implement a fatherhood and grandparent program at the school. Research programs that have been successful at other schools (i.e. Donuts for Dad’s, Men that Care, Million Father March, Dinner for Dads, etc.).
  • Promptly return all phone calls to parents
  • Remain positive, patient and open-minded when trying to resolve a parent issue or concern.
  • Help parents connect with other parents via one-to-one introductions, emails and social media
  • Make time to be available to hear parent concerns.
  • Keep information sent to parents in small doses. Too much sent at once often overwhelms parents and the info gets thrown away.
  • Include community information in school newsletters
  • Volunteer breakfasts really work for appreciating but also provide a time to share information
  • Provide a suggestion box or email address for suggestions
  • Utilize personalized invitations (either face-to-face, email or notes) Blast email are great but some people need the personal invitation.
  • Compile information for parents into a “Parent Handbook.” Compile a booklet, folder or other publication informing parents about the various contests and incentive programs available for their children.
  • Create an incentive program for parents (to encourage nightly reading with their children).
  • Create a homework hotline or inform parents how to connect to an existing one. Implement a “buddy system” that matches students with other students for homework help.
  • Organize “Family Nights” where students and parents attend together. Successful programs sometimes off separate activities for parents and their children as well
  • Have parents serve as “guest speakers” to share what they do with the class or other parents. Career information should not be limited to “Career Day

 

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