The primary goal of this plan is to encourage and facilitate parental involvement in the elementary classroom. Since there is no one reason for nonparticipation I am advancing several approaches that seek to address a variety of obstacles that parents face in becoming involved in their child’s education. I’m also interested in ideas that others may have on this topic, so please e-mail me with your feedback and ideas.
Start Up Calls
Spend the week before school starts calling each parent to introduce your self, emphasize their importance from the start and open lines of communication. Invite them to a parent meeting and take this time to discuss scheduling a meeting for when the most parents can attend.
Establish a calling web in which each parent is responsible for calling two or three other parents to notify of special events or news. Attempt to set up so bilingual parents will call those that don’t speak English well. This will help to address communication issues for those who don’t read. Designate a neighbor to inform those with out phones.
Beginning of the Year Questionnaire
Send a questionnaire home to parents on the first day of school. Ask them these kind of questions:
- Tell me about your child, what are his or her interests?
- What do you think is important for your child learn this year?
- Is there anything you especially want me to know about your child?
- How would you like to be involved in your child’s education this year?
Have box mounted outside of class door for student or parent suggestions. Let it be known it is perfectly fine to make anonymous suggestions or to send them in envelopes with students.
Thursday Folder Notes
Send home a folder on Thursdays with student work in one side, school communication on the other side. Have a sheet that is permanently included for hand written comments and communication between parent and teacher.
Each month send home a calendar that highlights times when parental participation would be encouraged on a school and class level. Include times in your daily schedule when parents are free to drop in, perhaps a study hall at the end of the day or a reading time when they can come listen to readers or read themselves. Invite parents to lunch, recess, library times, lab time and special activities. Try to schedule at least one thing a month that will occur in the evening (for working parents). Have an authors tea where students share works they’ve published. Set up an art museum for parents to come see. Have parents let you know if they have an idea to add. A calendar will give parents on a tight schedule an opportunity to plan in advance and give them a variety of options to choose from.
Have one evening a week marked on calendar when you will either be available in the class room or available over the phone to speak with parents. Periodically change the time so you will be available to all parents at sometime.
Rotating Homeroom Parent
Have the homeroom parent position change each new nine week period. This will give more parents an opportunity to participate so that the work load will be less likely to fall on one or two persons.
Weekly News Letters
Send home a news letter in Thursday folders. Try to incorporate the help of a bilingual parent or coworker if necessary. Use news letter to thank parents and acknowledge their contributions and inform them of any new developments.
In the case of parents who don’t respond to written communication, periodically call them so they will know you are aware of them and care about their input. If they do not speak English enlist the help of their “web” caller or a member of the school staff who speaks their language.
Bulletin Board Feature
Use a specific bulletin board to highlight individual students, their families, and cultural heritage on a one or two week rotating basis. Encourage the parents to help the student plan the board. Send each family a note about it with suggestions (that they aren’t limited to) and a sign up schedule. Be prepared with plans to assist students that have parents who don’t get involved.
Consider all family situations in homework assignments. Give weekly or monthly packets so a family can be flexible in designating time to work on it. Include activities that can be accomplished with parental input such as family histories, surveys, and projects.
Parent Book Shelf
Have books, even if only a few, available to parents on a specifically designated shelf in your room Include books on parenting, homework and study skills, and what ever the need is in the class.
By:Â DEBORA MCDONNELL
JEFFERSON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL