I look forward to reading success stories in response to this question.
Here a few general ideas for involving parents in their child's school:
1. A Parent-Teacher Organization(PTO) can foster social activiites and fund raising. A Parent Advisory Board(PAB) can give suggestions and input regarding school decisions and policy. I have seen the PTO and the PAB groups combined in smaller rural schools and called the School Improvement Team (SIT). A parent can also serve on a Parent Liaison Team to provide assistance and support to other parents.
2. Parents can work on school bulletins, newsletters, or co-administrate a school group in Thinkfinity Community to promote school activities. Parents can be key players in public relations during mill levy campaigns.
3. Parents can be trained to help organize students for the School Nurse during eye checks, shots, or other health related activities. Parents can be trained to assist with clerical duties such as making Xerox copies, to act as school crossing guards and to help with playground duties. Parents can help organize school-wide Book Clubs or enrichment programs. Parents can work in the library to shelve books, help with book checkout, and assist students with projects or computer work.
4. A Volunteer Coordinator, one person or a team of parents who works to establish a school volunteer program, can recruit volunteers as requested by staff and may organize a system to track volunteer hours.
I should think that a school that gives parents a space to help them feel welcome, become informed of school activities and meet other parents would have more interested volunteers. This Parent Nook should be located near the front door and include comfortable sitting, coffee, bookshelves filled with parenting books and videos for checkout, and a bulletin board with upcoming school and community events of interest. If you have mobile computers, Thinkfinity Training sessions might even be offered to interested parents. :-)
I would give any volunteer a folder defining their task in writing and educate them on the rules of the school, such as checking in at the office.. As the administrator, I would remember to say "thank you" to volunteers. If a teacher receives direct benefit from a volunteer, they should write a thank you note. I think a school-wide tea or celebration to thank all the school volunteers for their participation would be a grand idea.
I am new to my site this year and am fortunate to have lots of parent support, but am constantly looking for ways to include more parents and increase communication. One thing that I am trying out this year is Coffee with Kelly. It is an informal time for parents to come meet with me and hear about events happening at our school. I begin our meetings a few minutes after the bell rings so many parents are on campus anyway. All of my parents are not always able to make it out to our PTA meetings or do not always receive the newsletter home, so I decided to try and bring them in when they are on campus anyway.
My school has had the most sucess lately by inviting parents to attend class with their students. For example, we had a "Take Me to Your Computer Lab" week where parents were invited to attend the 45 minute daily computer class with their child. About 1/3 of our parents came to this, which is well above our normal attendance for such things. Students logged in and showed parents all the programs we use in the lab. Plus, I gave a handout with home logins for Renaissance Place (Math Facts and Accelerated Reader). I also made a brochure handout that listed all the logins for games and activities that go along with our textbooks such as Spelling Connections, Harcourt Reading, and Harcourt Math websites. An additional handout listed Internet sites with appropriate activities tied to grade level content such as Starfall.com and Learn21. Parents seemed to really enjoy the resources and running the programs with their child. I purchased extra headphones and split connectors for them so parents and students could listen through the computer speaker system without disturbing others as they worked.
We also did this for our math classes to promote parent involvement with math homework at home. Attendance for this was almost 1/2. Parents came in to sit in on their child's regular math class.
In October we had a special Reading Night where parents came in and heard a story read aloud to the whole group. Students received copies of the book that was read aloud. Afterwards we had a hayride and served hotdogs, chips, and drinks. Attendance for this was about 3/4 of the school.
Message was edited by: Alisha Deskins
Fortunately, we have a strong and organized PTA. We have a parent who coordinates the room parents and trains them to better support the teachers and classrooms. This year, our principal has invited parents to be trained in strategies to help with sight words, fluency, and basic math facts. The VIPS will work with struggling K-5 students.
My classroom has a lot of parents that like to be involved. I let them help out in my classroom on a weekly basis. Plus, I do cooking in my classroom once a month for those parents that work and can only take a day off every once in a while. One other thing my parents really enjoy is coming into classrooms and teaching their child's class ( and other classroom) the Meet the Masters Art Program. The parents enjoy being the "teacher" and seeing their child as a student in the classroom.
I use the internet to get parents involved. A few years ago I started emailing parents "free and cheap" activities to do for the next month in our community. Many of these ideas came from gocitykids.com and our local paper. I would also share which museums were free that month and special exhibitions. Parents started emailing me other ideas and I would add them to the list. The parents who were first involved now hold their own get-together during the summer months. These are the same parents who hang out before class and talk with others. The fact that I saw many of these parents at the activities allowed them to see me in a different light also. I think that once parents start interacting with each other, they are more likely to want to do activities together at school.
How do you get parents involved?
I find many parents want to be involved- they don't know how and they don't want to overstep bound
It is more about giving them a means to do so. For example, it helps to put them in charge of classroom activities, parties, websites, gatherings, etc...
Also if communication lacks- set up an easy website to communicate with them- Weebly.com offers free- easy to make websites- they even have a contact form where users can easily write you.
Set up schedules notes so parents know when they are coming home
Parents will come out when they get to see their child performing. It doesn't have to be singing or acting, even if they are reading something or showing off some work to an audience, parents will come. IF you serve food, you'll get an extended family to come out as well. We have "Family Night" events and have our students show off their work, share information about things they've learned and serve a spaghetti dinner that the cafeteria staff cooks. We get over 250 guests to come out.
I have few that worked last year:
Invite them to see their child give an oral presentation about a project.
Use a room parent to inform the parents about events going on in the classroom.
Make a personal invitation to those parents that you don't see as often to come and chaperone on a field trip.
Provide a list of jobs that you need support and at "Back to School" have them sign in. (Take work home, Photographer for field trips, wash the cover for the reading bathtub, check out student's books weekly for each student to take home, computer day assistant, etc.)
Got to have a school wide plan with a set expectation for a parent. And of course things for them to do that makes them a serious contributor to the community. It can't be one teacher doing it all. What areas of the school need improvement? I think u start with one area and look at how parents could help by being there.
Teachers could include the URL for the Thinkfinity Community in materials they send home with students at the beginning of the school year. They could provide a brief explanation about the community and encourage parents to join so that teachers could then communicate with parents (and vice versa) via the Private Messages feature of the community. In the school district where I taught, we could not email parents unless the parents came to the school and personally gave their email addresses to teachers. The concern was that students might pretend to be parents and provide email addresses to teachers which the students accessed and not the parents. Using the Thinkfinity Community messages would probably be more secure for parents than emailing. Also I believe parents would find some of the discussions in the community very helpful in educating their children.
Another good resource for sharing information with parents comes from SchoolNotes. This is not a Thinkfinity resource, but the free web site offers communication options for teachers, parents, and students.
Check out two free, online tools for coordinating parent volunteers:
To learn more about using these resources, read the blog "Two Easy Tools Teachers Can Use to Coordinate Parent Volunteers" that appeared in Free Technology for Teachers (August 26, 2013).
How could you use these tools in your classroom?
Do you have other free, online resources to recommend for managing volunteers?