Well, if you’re reading this, you probably already know.
Because the benefits of parental involvement in schools are well-established. From the proven link between increasing parent engagement and higher pupil attainment,to higher completion rates on homework, better behaviour and self-esteem.
What isn’t as well-established are the best ways of promoting parental involvement in schools. Because even though you’ve probably tried hundreds of different tactics, grabbing the attention of a busy parent is about as easy as nailing jelly to a wall.
So maybe you’ve tried all the ideas listed below already. Maybe there are one or two new ones. Either way, we hope this list makes you feel less alone, as you battle the age-old problem of parental engagement. We’ve all been there, teach, and you’re doing a great job!
But first: what’s the difference between parental involvement and engagement?
Well, the two terms cross over quite a bit. But at Weduc, we tend to favour Education Scotland’s definition, which is based on a few pieces of specialist literature. They say that parental involvement is what happens between the parents and the school: an ongoing, two-way relationship made up of regular communications and contributions from both sides. Examples might include having a conversation with a teacher at parents evening, or volunteering to paint sets for the school play.
Parental engagement, they say, is much broader, and describes the relationship between parents and their children’s education in general. At school, at home, and out and about in the community, it covers all the things parents do to foster a positive learning environment – from chatting about school over dinner, to taking the kids out to the local farm or swimming lessons.
In short, any ideas that promote parental involvement in schools will also help to support parental engagement – and all its benefits – at home and beyond.
So, on to the list!
1. Get connected
The number one way of encouraging parental involvement in schools is making it easy for them. And thanks to the latestmessaging apps, you can do just that. The days of fishing crumpled letters out of rucksacks are gone, and there’s no need to leave unopened emails lingering in inboxes either. Now, you can send SMS messages, push notifications, calendar reminders and social media updates straight into the palms of their hands.
2. Time your communications right
If your school has the budget for an all-singing, all-dancing parent app, that’s great – but don’t forget to be savvy about how and when you send your messages too. It’s no good sending something out when everyone’s at work – or after a marathon marking session, when they’re in bed! Choose a time when parents are most likely to see (and hopefully act on) your message.
The same advice applies to schools that don’t have the budget for the latest tech too. Social media is free, and getting the right messages in front of the right people, at the right time, could be invaluable for parent engagement.
3. Become an educational influencer
Not every parent wants to chair the PTA. But some might be interested, and not know where to start. So why not become an educational content creator, by sharing or even making useful explainer videos, blogs and guides on your school’s website?
These could be general – ‘how to offer homework help’, subject-specific, or topical issues such as nutrition or drugs education. You could also open the floor to parents, to find out what they’d most like to know, then make a video or share some resources to help.
Just remember: keep it short, sweet, and easy to digest.
4. Take advantage of parental FOMO
That’s Fear Of Missing Out. Put on a successful event? Share photos and videos of it on the school website and social media afterwards, and be sure to point out how parents got involved. If other parents can see how much fun it is, they might be intrigued enough to join in next time.
5. Speak the same language
Cultural and language barriers can make it difficult for some parents to feel comfortable joining in. That’s why some schools use their position at the heart of the community to host evening language classes for parents.
Tech is also on your side. Weduc’s Parent App, for example, is available in an ever-expanding range of languages (14 at the time of writing!).This means that everything in the system, from basic functionalities to school menus, is automatically translated. We can also look into adding new languages for you, bringing communities closer together.
6. Make volunteering more inclusive
Lots of people are aware of the importance of parental involvement in schools, but not everyone has the time to volunteer during the school day. So have a think about different family circumstances – single parent families, families with two working parents, families on a tight budget – or about the individual skills of the parents you know, and see if there are some creative ways of getting them involved.
Maybe one parent is really good with languages, and could translate one of your newsletters or social posts? Perhaps another is great at art or woodwork, and can help with sets for the school play? Maybe one busy parent has an interesting career that they can give a talk about? Mixing up 5-minute tasks with more time-consuming commitments is just one way of encouraging parental involvement from a broader spectrum of people.
Additionally, why not try sharing a list of items that are needed for the classroom? Things like art bits and boxes of tissues – inexpensive stuff that people can pick up while they’re doing the weekly shop.
There might also be opportunities for donation – of unused laptops and other computer equipment that could be used for learning. Because even when parents don’t have a lot of time – they might still have something else to give.
7. Don’t just do it for the kids
How about hosting some interesting talks, events, and workshops just for parents? From evening classes about child development to art therapy and mental health support, opening the door to parents in this way could really help them to feel part of the school community. Which means, of course, that the kids benefit in the long run, too.
8. Choose a parent app that makes it all easy
At Weduc, we’re experts in bringing schools, parents and students closer together. With custom-branded apps that make it easy to target messages to the right people, at the right time.
Find out more about how our all-in-one tools make communication easy and parents more engaged today.