Year Round Involvement of Parents in School Activities
Establish a Relationship
At the beginning of the year identify families not yet involved. Begin by making introduction phone calls to parents and inviting them to Orientation Night.
Once Parents are in Attendance
Create a comfortable environment. Acknowledge their presence as soon as they arrive or as soon as possible.
Introduce parents to staff who will interact with their child such as, school counselors, office staff and the principal. Make introductions short, friendly and comfortable.
Have high expectations of parents. Let them know the important role they play in their child’s education. Since your goal is to encourage and increase parent involvement, provide at least one or two training’s that informs parents of their role and their rights and responsibilities in school and in their child’s education.
Two -Way Communication
Let parents know the importance of communication between teacher and parent. Make clear that even if they do not speak fluent English, if they are deaf or have any other challenge to standard communication, they have the right to call, speak or write a note to the teacher whenever they have a question or concern.
Local non-profit agencies can provide a list of professional interpreters. This requires prior planning but it is well worth the effort. Having interpreters avoids placing the parent in the awkward position of their child interpreting the parent/teacher conversation.
Talking to a parent via an interpreter
Make and maintain eye contact with the parent. Direct your comments to the parent and not the interpreter. During the conversation pause at intervals to allow the parent time for questions/comments, this also permits the interpreter a pause.
Acknowledge feelings of discomfort
Take time to check in with them and ask if they understand or if they have any comments or questions. Use small talk to break the ice. “I enjoy having your son/daughter in my classroom”, “thanks for joining us today”. Empathy is recognized by all persons and in all languages.
Make a special effort to inform parents of student events such as, intramural activities, homework, tutoring classes or school activities like talent shows.
Attendance at School Events
It is normal in some cultures for parents to bring the whole family to school functions. Providing childcare and refreshments will provide a comfortable setting and result in positive outcomes for parents and staff.