Three Tips to Increase Parent Engagement in the Classroom
This is a guest post by Elena Krasnoperova, founder of SimplyCircle.
As teachers, you know that engaging parents in the classroom can be a huge driver of student success. But doing it – especially keeping parents involved throughout the entire school year – can be very challenging. As a parent, I can attest how much we want to be involved in the school, but also how overwhelming it can be, given the conflicting demands on our time. As a teacher, do you have an explicit strategy for better engaging parents?
Here are three quick tips based on what I’ve learned from my personal experience as a mother of two young kids, and from hundreds of interviews I did with teachers and parents when I was designing SchoolCircle. I hope you will find them helpful.
Let parents know what’s going on in class
While it takes time for teachers to send out daily or weekly updates to parents, telling parents what’s happening creates enormous gains in parents feeling involved. If you want more conversations around the dinner table about what is happening at school, give them a conversation starter.
Too busy to write up these notes? If you have parents willing to help you, you can designate a Room Parent or a Communications Parent to help share the load of communication. While the parents would appreciate a letter from you most of all, they would rather get communications from another parent in the class than no communication at all.
Help build a community among parents
Teachers may not realize that when parents in a class have relationships with each other, they feel more like the class is a key part of their community, and they are more likely to engage overall. You can foster this sense of community by adopting systems for class communication that allow parents to interact and engage with each other.
Want something more low tech? Encourage your Room Parent to host a parent happy hour to foster a sense of community. You can even just call out the first names of parents who have volunteered in your communications, just to drive greater familiarity among the parents.
Make it even easier to volunteer throughout the year
I have heard from parents that sometimes volunteer opportunities are presented only at Back to School night, and only as annual commitments – like being a library volunteer every Tuesday morning for the entire year. For a lot of working parents, this commitment is too much to sign up for. As a result, they start thinking that volunteering at school isn’t something they can do at all.
Want to break that cycle? If you can create ongoing volunteer opportunities throughout the year, particularly ones that are one-time commitments, you can dramatically increase the number of parents who participate. Look for classroom communication platforms that make it easy for you (or a room parent) to create one-off volunteer opportunities, and make it easy for parents to sign up and get reminded about the volunteer commitments.
Increasing parent involvement takes effort, but if you work at it, you can create a much more engaged group of parents – and better outcomes for your students. What are your favorite tips for engaging parents? Tell us in the comments.
About Elena Krasnoperova
Elena Krasnoperova is the founder of SimplyCircle, a parent-teacher communication service. She founded SimplyCircle to help teachers and parents work together more effectively, and she believes that improved teacher-parent communication and collaboration is key in helping students achieve stronger educational outcomes.