- While family engagement in education looks different at every school, a new Carnegie Corporation of New York report encourages educators to involve parents in five specific areas: attendance, data sharing, academic and social development, digital media and transitions between grades.
- Authored by Global Family Research Project Director Heather Weiss, the report suggests schools combat absenteeism by texting or calling parents to tell them their child isn't in class, break down big data and make it easy to share and understand, encourage parents to emphasize social-emotional learning and STEM skills even when their child isn't at school, have parents advise their children on how to be safe online, and ensure parents are engaged during transition times like the jump between middle and high school.
- The report suggests an array of tools that schools and parents can use to boost family engagement, including digital apps and messaging services that can help parents reinforce at what their children are learning in school, or that can update family members on what assignments are in progress or due. Schools can also offer tutoring sessions for parents to support learning, and city mentorship programs can supplement parents' support as students enter different phases of their academic lives.
Regardless of location or other circumstances, schools need to promote family engagement among all students and parents, as well as other family members. The impacts of family engagement — which include increased student performance and higher graduation rates — are especially significant in low-income households, The 74 notes, but they are beneficial everywhere and should not be ignored or dismissed.
Involved parents help to provide students with a more supportive environment, and a solid and positive foundation can make for more school connectedness and, in turn, higher educational outcomes and resiliency. Students will be more motivated to go to school, more engaged in what they're learning, and more excited to go home and talk to their family about it or apply this knowledge to their own lives. It's up to parents to take an interest in their children's lives at school, but it's also partially the job of schools to nurture and support this relationship by keeping parents in the loop about what's going on during the school day. Gestures as simple as sending parents report cards or publishing a regular newsletter are small undertakings that bring big results.
Additionally, as schools continue to unveil new technology initiatives or plans to implement ed tech in classrooms, parents need to remain part of the equation. This technology is meant to make students' and teachers' lives easier by boosting efficiency and communication, but it needs to do the same for parents. If a family member feels alienated or isolated, they'll be less likely to get involved in their student's school or learning process, and this will only fuel a negative cycle. Plus, if parents are familiar with classroom technology and district plans, rolling out these initiatives — some of which should be catered toward parents themselves — will be a smoother, easier process that's more likely to succeed.
Keeping parents involved in a student's education poses advantages to the student, the parent, the school and the overall community. Parents should be allies to students' learning and schools' teaching efforts. But schools must ensure they're not just sitting back and hoping this will take place.