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/ Apr 24, 2019

11 Ways Parents Can Get Involved in Schools

Parents

School Involvement Matters

A partnership between teachers and families helps develop successful and well-rounded students. This partnership provides students with more opportunities to learn and grow from a larger range of viewpoints and life experiences. Through open communication and collaboration, parents and teachers create important opportunities for teens to develop social, emotional, and academic skills. School involvement makes a difference.

The Benefits of School-Family Partnerships

When teachers and families partner together to support student achievement, students earn higher grades, attend school more regularly, and enroll in higher level courses. This collaboration also fosters more motivated students. Young people maintain higher educational aims and lower rates of dropout. Students with involved parents have better attendance, complete more homework, and have higher enrollment in educational opportunities after high school. Parents can participate at school by helping with functions and activities, or communicating with teachers. They can also be involved at home in many ways, including guiding their children to manage homework and other commitments and engaging in discussions about values and attitudes regarding education.

It’s About More Than Academics

A school-family partnership does more than enhance academic achievement. When parents and teachers work together, students report higher levels of motivation and self-esteem. Students also  develop key social and emotional learning skills, such as self-awareness, relationship building, and responsible decision-making. Young people develop these skills when programs are coordinated across settings, including home and school. When families and educators work together, they reinforce the kind of behaviors and skills young people need to become successful adults.

The reality is that not all schools have the same resources. But the good news is that parental involvement makes a real difference in schools everywhere. We hope for a nation in which all young people have schools with the resources needed to educate and prepare youth. Whether your school has all it needs or deserves more, involved parents make a difference.

Roadblocks to School Involvement

There are many potential roadblocks for family engagement in schools. Common reasons include demanding work schedules that allow little time for volunteering, discomfort communicating with school officials due to cultural or language barriers, and difficulty with transportation or childcare. School budget cuts and stretched resources may leave teachers, counselors, and administrators less time to create effective systems for family involvement. But when parents are able to get involved, their participation can help schools make the most of existing resources. And there are many ways for parents to stay involved in their children’s education that don’t require a trip to the school!

Discussion Tip
Teens benefit from knowing their parents are engaged in their education. Consider ways you can partner with your child's teachers and the school community.
Through open communication and collaboration, parents and teachers create important opportunities for teens to develop social, emotional, and academic skills.

Ways to Get Involved

Here are 11 suggestions for getting involved in your child’s education.

  1. Attend back-to-school nights or other orientation events. Get to know your teen’s teachers in the beginning of the school year. These events are also a great way to meet other families. Attending parent-teacher conferences throughout the year ensures you are on the same page.
  2. Ask your teacher how they would like to communicate. For each teacher, find out whether phone calls, emails, or texts are the best way to stay up-to-date on progress and communicate if a problem arises. Don’t be afraid to speak up for your adolescent’s needs.
  3. Demonstrate a positive view of education at home. Parental school involvement does not only occur inside the schools. It is also about communicating your larger values and attitudes regarding education and the hopes, dreams, and expectations you hold for your children. Communicating these values motivates young people to be persistent when faced with challenging educational tasks.
  4. Encourage reading. Helping your children develop a love of reading is the single most important thing you can do to help them succeed in school and in life. Show them the importance of lifelong learning by reading books on your own. Even better, read the same book with them. Taking it one step further, discuss the book together afterwards!
  5. Help manage the homework process. Let your teen know you think education is important and that homework is a priority. Set aside a special place to study and establish a regular time for homework. Help your child stay organized, ask about daily assignments, and monitor their work. Always remember to notice and praise effort.
  6. Attend school events. Go to games and concerts, student exhibitions, and award events that your teen is and is not involved in. Your involvement in school-wide events, even when your tween or teen is not directly involved, helps build a community at large. You’ll meet other members of the school community and show your support for ALL kids.
  7. Attend parent organization meetings. At most schools, parents meet regularly to discuss school issues. Join the PTA (Parent Teacher Association) or PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) to work with other families to improve the school. If you can’t attend the meetings in-person, ask to join the meetings virtually or ask for the notes to be emailed or sent to you.
  8. Volunteer in the school. Schools often allow volunteers to chaperone trips or dances, help in classrooms, or run a school event. If your work schedule doesn’t allow you to volunteer in the school building, there are other ways to offer your time.You can volunteer to translate newsletters into other languages, make phone calls to let others know about school-related activities, or work on materials for school events. Be on the lookout for volunteer opportunities and share your special skills!
  9. Let the school know what groups, classes or guidance you would like them to provide. Schools are a great resource to improve your own learning. If you want to know more about the school’s new math curriculum, how to talk with your teen about relationships, or how to help your teen apply to financial aid, let the school know! Chances are if you want to learn more about a topic, other parents do as well.
  10. Encourage active learning. Young people need to be encouraged to ask and answer questions, solve problems, and explore their interests. Have frequent conversations about what they are learning and be prepared to ask questions. When you encourage this type of learning at home, your teen’s participation and interest in school may increase.
  11. Learn about your rights. It’s important to know what your rights are as a parent when it comes to special services such as English instruction, immigration status, individualized education plans, and more. Learn more in Your Rights as the Parent of a Public School Student.

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Supporting Your Teen’s School Success

When parents are involved in schools and support learning, young people are more successful. Click through to review benefits of getting involved with your child’s education.

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The Benefits of School-Parent Partnerships

When teachers and families partner together, teens develop important social and emotional skills and have better academic performance. Look for ways to partner with your teen’s school. This may include volunteering, meeting teachers and administrators, or supporting school events.

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Provide Support at Home

You can be involved in your teen’s education from home. Talk regularly with your teen about school and learning. Make it clear you value their education.

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Build a Strong Relationship with Your Teen’s Teacher

Meet the teachers in the beginning of the school year. Learn how they best communicate. Share important information that may affect your teen’s school work.

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Help Your Teen Manage School Work

This doesn’t mean doing your child’s homework. It means empowering your teen to come up with a routine to effectively complete assignments. It also means helping develop time management and organizational skills. And encouraging healthy eating, sleep, and exercise habits to keep your teen focused and prepared for school.

Moving Forward

School involvement is a great way to build relationships with teachers and staff, meet other families in the neighborhood, and help the school community grow to meet the needs of the students. Creating effective school–community partnerships takes time, commitment, willingness, and trust. However, the pay-off is promising. Community involvement in schools is consistently seen as key to building high-achieving schools.

Above all, you want your children to know you are engaged in their education. Even if you don’t have time to volunteer, you can help them learn when you’re at home. The key question is, “What can I do at home, easily and in a few minutes a day, to reinforce what the school is doing?” This kind of involvement in what and how your teen is learning is crucial to support your children’s success both in and out of school.

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Eden Pontz

Eden Pontz is Executive Producer and Director of Digital Content for the CPTC. She oversees digital media content development and production for parentandteen.com. She also writes, copyedits, and produces podcasts and videos for the site. Her pieces cover a range of topics, including resilience, teen development, peer pressure, and mentoring. Eden brings years of experience as a former Executive Producer of Newsgathering at CNN, as well as a field producer, writer, and reporter for CNN and other news organizations.

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