Parents want what is best for their children, though they might not be sure how to achieve that. Parents have the capacity to prepare their children for lifetime success.
Research about when and why families get involved in schools to support student success by Kathleen Hoover-Dempsey identifies some key issues for involving families with children’s learning and with the school system. Families need to:
- Understand that they should be involved – it is ok
- Feel capable of making a contribution – they know how to do what is expected
- Be invited by the school and their children
Parents may get involved for their own child’s benefit, but often stay involved with efforts that help all children. One role that schools often see for parents is in fund raising. While this is important and can be integral to supporting student success, fund raising is only one way that families can be involved. Family engagement based on a foundation of shared responsibility strengthens four key roles1 that families play in their children’s educational success:
Schools impart knowledge about how to support a child’s development and learning to parents to help them become effective guides – engagement in children’s play, shared book reading, showing high expectations, and having conversations about a student’s occupational and educational aspirations.
Parent attendance at parent-teacher conferences, communication with teachers, and volunteer involvement in school activities provide families with information to make educational decisions and demonstrate support for children.
Advocate for School Improvement
Collective organizing and mobilization increases family engagement, improves school climate and policies, and improves student achievement and behavior.
Decision-Maker and Leadership
This role builds parent social networks that can influence school climate and give voice to historically underrepresented families.
1Beyond Random Act, Family, School, and Community Engagement, as an Integral Part of Education Reform, Heather B. Weiss, M. Elena Lopez, and Heidi Rosenberg, Harvard Family Research Project, December 2010
- Encourage effective two way communication
- Support child development and student learning
- Promote speaking up for every child
- Share power
- Collaborate with constituents and other partners