Tips for Engaging Parents in Their Child’s Education

December 27, 2016

This article was written by Dennis Pierce, the former editor-in-chief of eSchool News, and current freelance writer covering education and technology. He has been following the ed-tech space for more than 17 years. To contact him, email: 

Parent involvement is a well-known strategy that can help boost student achievement, but a significant majority of teachers say fewer than 25 percent of parents are involved in their classroom, a new survey reveals.

The University of Phoenix College of Education teamed up with Harris Poll to survey more than 1,000 K-12 teachers online. According to the survey, 62 percent of teachers say fewer than a quarter of their students’ parents get involved by communicating with them directly, visiting the classroom, volunteering at events, or otherwise engaging with the school. Only one in five teachers (20 percent) say at least half their students’ parents are involved.

That’s troubling, because research indicates that parent involvement makes a significant different in a child’s education. For instance, the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory looked at the results of 51 studies and concluded that students with involved parents are more likely to earn higher grades, enroll in higher-level programs, attend school regularly, graduate on time, and go on to postsecondary education—no matter their family income or background.

“Parents are the first teachers of their children, and they play an integral role in their education both inside and outside of the classroom,” said Pamela Roggeman, academic dean for the University of Phoenix College of Education. “Communication between parents and teachers is critical to student success. As a former high school teacher, I saw firsthand how a culture of collaboration improved student outcomes and teacher satisfaction.”

When asked how they would like parents involved in the classroom, teachers cited the following:

  • Don’t wait until there is an issue to connect with the teacher (68 percent).
  • Ask about areas for improvement for their child (65 percent).
  • Communicate regularly with the teacher (65 percent).

To boost parent involvement, Roggeman says educators should “find concrete ways for parents to engage in what’s happening in the classroom.” Some ways to do this include:

  • Have parents react to assignments (write a reaction to assignments, essays, etc.).
  • Communicate upcoming projects and solicit any input for enrichment resources from parents.
  • Have parents come to class to help evaluate speeches or presentations.
  • Work with parents’ employers to partner for competency-based projects.

Having a secure online portal where families can access their children’s grades, assignments, attendance records, and class or school events from any internet-connected devices also is critical. Systems that can alert parents to upcoming deadlines proactively and make it easy for teachers or administrators to communicate with parents—such as a student information system—can reduce the burden on already overtaxed educators, while helping to engage parents more deeply in their child’s education.

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[Jim Thorpe]
[Jim Thorpe]