Taking Parent Engagement to the Next Level
September 3, 2012 High quality charter schools embrace parent leaders. Parent leadership improves academic performance, strengthens your school culture, and reinforces the bonds between students, their families and school leaders. If you feel like you need to do more to engage families at your school here are some places to start.
Ask for help. The number one reason why parents don't get involved: They are never asked. Start asking for help from the moment families enroll at your school. You may be afraid that parent engagement may be more work than you can handle, but once you begin to trust parent leaders, you will see the benefits of the additional hands on deck.
Meet with school staff to identify meaningful ways parents can support your school. Don't forget to include your plant manager or custodian, your school secretary and the staff member responsible for your library. You may need help with campus beautification, parking control, fundraising for a new play structure or help managing the school's Facebook account. Make a list of meaningful work for parents, identify the staff members who can provide support and then share this list often and widely.
Harness the power of social media. It's free. Too often, flyers and newsletters go home in students' backpacks and never see the light of day. With a Facebook page, you can update it quickly, there are no printing costs and most parents, even those without Internet access at home, have smartphones and are connected to Facebook. A trusted parent leader can be responsible for posting updates and monitoring your school's Facebook page. To enhance privacy, you can set permissions so that an administrator must approve new members.
We'd love to hear what you are doing at your school to enhance family leadership. Do you have a pro tip to share? Send it to Rachel Minnick, Director of Family & Community Engagement, Capitol and Central Valley Region and we will feature it in an upcoming Weekly Member Digest. If you need some support to start or increase family engagement at your school, Families That Can is ready to help.