Part of getting students engaged and involved is getting parents invested. “When schools, families, and community groups work together to support learning, children tend to do better in school, stay in school longer, and like school more” (source).
Studies have shown that students with more involved parents are more likely to:
Attend school regularly
Demonstrate better behavior and social skills
Enroll in more advanced courses
Earn higher scores and grades
Graduate and continue their education
So how do we get parents more involved? It's optimal to start the conversation at the beginning of the school year, but really, anytime is a great time to connect with parents. New students come into classrooms through the year, and parents always want to know what's happening in your classroom.
As long as you’re making yourself available to parents and keeping an open communication line, you’re setting yourself up for success. Check out with these 4 questions teachers should ask parents so that you can learn how to better help your students in the classroom.
How and when would you like me to be in touch with you this year? What are the top two things that you care about communicating?
Getting this information up front means that every parent has the opportunity to provide the most effective contact information and to request a certain amount of communication. With modern technology, it’s easier than ever to communicate with parents no matter what their schedules look like. From a simple email to a scheduled video chat, teachers have plenty of options when it comes to keeping in touch with parents.
By keeping in touch with parents, you can help the students by relaying any problem areas or just sending general progress information from time to time. Many parents will want to work on some particularly difficult subjects at home, so an open dialogue with a teacher can be really valuable.
How would you like to be involved with your child’s education?
Many parents want to be involved in their children’s educations beyond the yearly parent-teacher conferences. Ask them how they would like to be involved, and give them some options if you already have a plan for activities where volunteers are needed. All teachers know the value of teamwork, so make sure you use parents as one of your valuable team players when planning learning activities.
Talking to parents about their level of involvement is key to planning ahead, both so you can gauge the amount of help and support you can expect and so you can allow parents to help shape their children’s education.
What would make this classroom an inviting and comfortable place for you and your child?
We’ve reached out to parents via their preferred method of communication, we’ve talked to them about their involvement, and now we just need to know how we can make our environment better for them and—more importantly—the students.
Especially for new students and young students, an inviting classroom can make all the difference in comfortability and engagement. Having comfortable, engaged students is key in facilitating learning. And it’s difficult to get new parents involved if they don’t feel welcome in the classroom. Work with parents to create an inviting environment for everyone and maximize engagement.
What is your child passionate about? What do they have a hard time with?
Knowing the passions and struggles of each of your students is a lot of work, but it’s probably the most important information that teachers can get from parents. You can nurture passions and inspire your students to get excited about learning and exploring! Teaching isn’t about getting students to memorize facts and pass tests; it’s about creating a spark and helping each student find their passion and pursue it.
Often parents can see things in children that the children can’t see in themselves. Ask the parents about these passions and struggles so that you can equip your students with the tools for a truly meaningful education.
Start each school year with these questions and you might be surprised by the results! Let us know in the comments if you have some other good questions teachers should ask parents!
Want some more tips on getting parents involved? Check out this free ebook from Ving!