Parent engagement is critical to a thriving school community--here's how to make it a long-term success

5 tips to increase parent engagement

Parent engagement is critical to a thriving school community--here's how to make it a long-term success

  1. Keep Two-Way Communication Lines Open 

No one wants to have to contact a parent for the first time with bad news. Establish a relationship early and communicate often with relevant, quick, and useful information. Start by reaching out to ask parents about their communication preferences. Do they prefer texts, emails, or phone calls? What kind of electronic devices do they have access to? Then, offer positive news about their child when possible or, provide proactive updates on upcoming course requirements. Establishing communication early and often can help create a positive school-home relationship. Having an established relationship will make any difficult conversations easier if they are needed. 

  1. Focus Communication with Parents on Their Students and Limit Extra Messages

Many people dread opening emails that they know will be long or full of “fluff.” Parents are no different. To increase their chances of engaging with your messages, try to keep messages focused on their students and limit extra outreach and messaging. When reaching out, use data to inform your conversations with parents. Using data to help get a picture of the whole student — including academic, behavioral, social-emotional learning, attendance, and disciplinary data — can help educators partner with parents to target interventions to help students. 

  1. Provide Actionable Feedback on How Parents Can Help Support Goals

When communicating with parents, it can be helpful to offer some next steps and any needed follow-up to support the success of the student. Having a clear, actionable path forward will help with making the best use of both teachers’ and parents’ time. Some examples of actionable feedback might be checking in with a student when assignments are due, working on attendance, or having a conversation with the student about expectations for behavior in the classroom. 

  1. Regularly Seek Feedback from Parents on Communication Processes and Keep a History of Messages Between School and Home

Once school-home communication processes are established, regularly check in with parents to see how processes are working and where improvements can be made. A great way to do this is to establish a Parent Advisory Committee that allows parents to volunteer four to five times a year for an open discussion with teachers and administrators. This type of discussion can help a school get valuable feedback. As a way of protecting schools and teachers, using technology that tracks communication with parents can be helpful. Having a  record of messages to refer to can help teachers and administrators if an issue comes up. 

Continuing school-home partnerships, whether students are learning in person or remotely, should be a priority for schools as they look to the future. Whether students are back in school or learning remotely, parents and educators will be working together to address the academic and social-emotional toll the pandemic has taken on K12 students. More schools are realizing the benefits of increasing meaningful, ongoing communication between school and home and implementing solutions to enable this communication. As schools plan for the future, partnering with parents and families should be at the forefront of conversations on helping students thrive. 

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