Best Practices for Parent Involvement in Schools
Research conﬁrms that the involvement of parents and families in their children’s education is critical to students’ academic success. House Bill 1, Ohio’s education reform bill, requires Ohio Department of Education to post examples of research-based best practices to help schools improve parents’ involvement in their children’s learning.
The following best practices are based on the State Board of Education’s Parent and Family Involvement Policy, the National PTA’s National Standards for Family-School Partnerships and Joyce L. Epstein’s Framework of Six Types of (Parent) Involvement.
Best Practices for Parent Engagement
- Create a welcoming school climate
- Provide families information on childhood learning and development
- Establish effective school-to-home and home-to-school communication
- Strengthen families’ knowledge and skills to support and extend their children’s learning at home and in the community
- Engage families in school planning, leadership and meaningful volunteer opportunities
- Connect students and families to community resources that strengthen and support students’ learning and well-being
#1. Create a welcoming school climate
- Provide a personal greeting and welcome packet for all parents visiting the school include a community services directory, important school contact information, school calendar, and coupons to local businesses.
- Have teachers make personal contacts with families through email, phone calls, or home visits.
- Hold an open house prior to school opening at which families can meet their children’s teachers, tour the school building, and meet other parents.
- Provide transportation and child care to enable families to attend school-sponsored, family events.
- Oﬀer translators to welcome and assist families during school activities.
#2. Provide families information on childhood learning and development
- Provide workshops and materials for parents on typical development and appropriate parent and school expectations for various age groups.
- Print suggestions for parents on home conditions that support learning at each grade level.
- Partner with local agencies to provide regular parenting workshops on nutrition, family recreation or communication.
- Have school personnel make home visits at transition points such as preschool and elementary, middle and high school to help families and students understand what to expect.
#3. Establish effective school-to-home and home-to-school communication
- Hold at least one conference with every family either at the start of each school year, or after the first marking or assessment period to discuss strengths, areas of improvements, benchmarks, milestones, and goals
- Send home weekly or monthly folders of fridge-worthy masterpieces or graded/ evaluated student work for review and comments
- Arrange for parent-student pick-up of report cards to ensure parents see, track, and understand their child’s progress
- Create a regular schedule of useful notices, memos, phone calls, newsletters and other communication so parents feel confident they are in the loop
#4. Strengthen families’ knowledge and skills to support and extend their children’s learning at home and in the community
- Provide training and materials for parents on how to improve children’s study skills or learning in various academic subjects.
- Make regular homework assignments that require students to discuss with their families what they are learning in class.
- Provide a directory of community resources and activities that link to student learning skills and talents, including summer programs for students.
- Oﬀer workshops to inform families of the high expectations and standards children are expected to meet in each grade level. Provide ways for families to support the expectations.
- Engage families in opportunities to work with their children in setting their annual academic, college and career goals.
#5. Engage families in school planning, leadership and meaningful volunteer opportunities
- Create roles for parents on all decision-making and advisory committees, properly training them for the areas in which they will serve (e.g., curriculum, budget or school safety).
- Provide equal representation for parents on school governing bodies.
- Conduct a survey of parents to identify volunteer interests, talents, and availability, then match these resources to school programs and staﬀ-support needs.
- Create volunteer recognition activities such as events, certiﬁcates, and thank-you cards.
- Establish a parent telephone tree to provide school information and encourage interaction among parents.
- Structure a network that links every family with a designated parent representative.
#6. Connect students and families to community resources that strengthen and support students’ learning and well-being.
- Through school-community partnerships, facilitate families’ access to community-based programs (e.g., health care and human services) to ensure that families have resources to be involved in their children’s education.
- Establish school-business partnerships to provide students mentoring, internships and onsite experiential learning opportunities.
- Connect students and families to service-learning projects in the community.
- Invite community partners to share resources at annual open houses or parent-teacher conferences.
Epstein, J. L., et al. (2009). School, family, and community partnerships: Your handbook for action, second edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Also see: www.partnershipschools.org.