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Getting Parents Involved

Key Words: Instructional Strategies, General Information, K-6

A few months ago there was a segment on a national news program about the problems with American public schools. The show seemed to point its finger at the teachers for their lack of discipline as being the cause for many of our school systems' troubles. Teachers, however, saw a different origin for many of their problems: lack of parental involvement. You can teach and discipline until you are blue in the face, but without parental support much of your effort will go to waste. So how can you get parents - who are not only preoccupied with parenting, but with their jobs as well - to devote time to their student's classroom and school?

First and foremost, the iniative must be put forth by you. Create an interest about your classroom. Get to know the parents by sending out a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter that includes samples of the children's work, a letter from you, and upcoming events and subjects the class will be covering. Also, don't let parents operate under the pretense that the only time they should visit you is during parent-teacher conferences. You may want to create "office hours" much like a college professor to allow parents to visit with you. And never hesitate to call home when a student's behavior is exceptional, not just poor. Some other ideas are to:

* Have a "morning tea". Invite parents to come in one morning for coffee, tea, and cookies. Have it in the cafeteria. The principal could greet them and take them throughout the school, maybe even stopping into selected classes.

* Have a "Family Movie Night." Rent a G-rated film and families can come with blankets and pillows and sit on the cafeteria floor to watch a Disney film of some sort. This not only gets the parents to the school, but it helps them to get to know one another and brings the community together.

* Have a chicken dinner and/or square dance night. This could also be a fundraiser if you sell the tickets.

* Have a "make and take workshop". Several teachers can volunteer to come one evening and show some ways that parents could help their kids at home with learning. The teachers demonstrate several educational crafts, the parents follow along and make the item as well, hence the "make and take" title. Set it up as centers with parents moving around to each center after a certain amount of time.

* When you have a book fair, open it up one night in order for the parents to come.

* Schedule your parent-teacher meetings the same night as a school event. After the activity, have the PTO meeting. For example, one might have a play or concert scheduled with a vast number of students participating. Then afterwards, have a PTO meeting.

* Have a big bang up PTO membership drive. Offer a reward to the class who gets the most parents to join the PTO. After that, have a drawing at each PTO meeting from the people who attended. When a parent's name is chosen, his/her child's class gets a pizza party.

(Thanks to the following for their contributions to this article: CHOCFAN@aol.com, kstrebig@csd.uwm.edu, CWHEELER@MAIL.KEUKA.EDU.)

This information was taken from Teacher's Edition Online Newsletter.

Uploaded by: Jodi Gray/KSU/Deaf Education Major