How to Improve The School To Parent Relationship?

Sep 29, 2023

Parent involvement in schools, especially at the high school level, often poses challenges for educators. Many educators have observed increased parental engagement in elementary schools, but by the time students reach high school, parental involvement wanes considerably. How can we bolster this relationship and encourage parents to take a more active role in their children’s education?

Understanding Parental Priorities

To begin addressing this issue, it’s essential to delve into the core motivations of parents. What do parents truly care about? The immediate response might be their child. However, to attract and sustain their involvement, we must tap into a broader understanding of human needs and wants. These could range from basic needs like food and housing to more intangible aspects like attention and recognition.

The Power of Communication

One of the most potent tools to foster parental involvement is effective communication. The philosophy suggests that our world is constructed by what we say and how we listen. To encourage parents to participate more actively, we must craft our messages to be both relatable and enticing. Instead of coercing parents, educators can use the power of words to invite them to choose involvement. This involves being transparent about intentions and understanding the underlying motivations of parents. For example, if the aim is to get parents more involved, clarify the purpose: “I would love to get parents more involved in their children’s lives so that they can understand their growth better.”

Family as a Focal Point

One innovative strategy to engage parents is to focus on the familial bond, which most parents deeply cherish. A proposed “Family Tree Activity” is an excellent example of this. Instead of a traditional family tree, educators can host sessions where families create a tree that represents the household’s key members. This activity serves dual purposes: it makes parents and family members feel seen and valued, and it also provides insights into the family dynamics that can be beneficial for educators.

Discovering Windows of Engagement

Engagement isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy. Just as educators often discover “windows” or specific interests that students have, they can also find these windows with parents. Some parents might be passionate about their family histories, while others could have specific hobbies or interests. By identifying and leveraging these windows, educators can foster deeper connections with parents and make them feel valued.

Increasing parental involvement in schools is not a straightforward task. It requires understanding, patience, and tailored strategies. By focusing on communication, recognizing the importance of family, and identifying unique engagement windows, educators can pave the way for a more collaborative relationship with parents.