Parent Involvement Tips
Parent Involvement Standard IV – Volunteering:
Parents should feel they are welcome in the school, and their support and assistance are sought.
When parents volunteer, both families and schools reap benefits that come in few other ways. Parents and family members perform literally millions of dollars of volunteer services each year in the public schools. Studies have concluded that volunteers express greater confidence in the schools where they have opportunities to participate regularly. In addition, assisting in school or program events/activities communicates to a child, “I care about what you do here.”
In order for parents to feel appreciated and welcome, volunteer work must be meaningful and valuable to them. Capitalizing on the expertise and skills of parents and family members provide much-needed support to educators and administrators already taxed in their attempts to meet academic goals and student needs.
Although there are many parents for whom volunteering during school hours is not possible, creative solutions like before-or-after-school “drop-in” programs or “at-home” support activities provide opportunities for parents to offer their assistance as well. The following are some ideas for implementing and encouraging volunteerism at your school:
- Establish a Volunteer Coordinator position focusing on recruiting volunteers to broaden the parent/family involvement base at your school. The coordinator should link volunteers to committee chairman organizing school events and look for creative ways to show appreciation for volunteer support.
- Develop a survey to gather parent and family volunteer information including special skills or talents. Provide opportunities for those who are able to volunteer during the day, those who are able to help regularly, and those who can participate occasionally at home or work. Be sure to follow up with volunteers on a timely basis.
- Host a Volunteer Orientation to train volunteers regarding school protocol, volunteer expectations, and equipment usage. Give clear instructions for completing volunteer tasks as well as the appropriate staff or teacher contact names. Provide an opportunity for those volunteers to sign up to help.
- The New Year is a great time to provide new opportunities for your parents and families to get involved. I encourage you to begin the year strong and make connections with the most valuable resource….volunteers!
Resource: California State PTA “Parents Empowering Parents” Guide
Communication Between Home and School
Communication is the foundation of a solid partnership. When parents and educators communicate effectively, positive relationships develop, problems are more easily solved and students make greater progress.
Too often, school or program communication is one-way without the chance to exchange ideas and share perceptions. Effective home-school communication is the two-way sharing of information vital to student success.
Even parent-teacher conferences can be one-way if the goal is merely reporting student progress. A strong parent-teacher partnership requires give-and-take conversation, goal setting for the future, and regular follow-up interactions.
PTA can work with schools to implement effective communications. The following are some ideas:
- Create a welcoming environment for parents. Place large signs welcoming all visitors at school entrances and classroom doors written in all major languages spoken in the school. Consider using color-coded lines on hallway walls or footprints on floors to help direct parents to important places like the office, parent center, or library.
- Explore program and community support options for improving mail, telephone, fax, or e-mail access and use for educators and parents. For example, automated phone systems and e-newsletters are powerful tools for getting information to parents – from daily assignments and attendance reports to parenting tips and student achievement information.
- Create class or program newsletters for parents that contain tips for helping children learn in the home, fun activities to do as a family, and other useful ideas.
- Establish a routine method for parents to review their children’s homework on a regular basis. For example, send student work home each week in manila envelopes with a place for parent’s comments on the front cover or use student planners for middle and high school students.
- Implement additional feedback opportunities for parents and family members such as surveys on current program issues or special parent guest columns in the school newsletter.
- Sponsor program or community events that allow educators and parents to interact on a social basis in addition to standard parent-teacher conferences or school/program meetings.
For additional information on communication, refer to the California State PTA Parents Empowering Parents Guide (PEP)
As published in the “Orange Leaves” newsletter . For subscription information, click here.