How do I make family engagement fun?

MC900331546During the eight years that I have spent in Pre-K, I have seen a marked decline in the level of parental interaction in everything from parent meetings to visiting the classroom.  In the beginning, the state of Tennessee allowed us to make parent-meetings, conferences, and school attendance,  a mandatory requirement for enrollment in our program.  Like many other things that the government handles, the requirements have been watered down to the point that we cannot require anything of the parents today.  I am very committed to providing a level playing field for all students to enter Kindergarten, but I feel that we have lost an essential part of the process.  Forcing parents to attend meetings and participate in conferences were not ideal measures, but we did see the results of that engagement.  I have become so frustrated by the lack of interest that parents show in their child’s first year of school and I want to explore new and creative ways to involve families and help them understand how important they are to their child’s education.

In researching blogs on parent engagement, there are ideas that range from simple communication to putting on a major event.  The Connecticut Education Association has appealed to their Legislature to introduce a bill giving parents 20 hours of earned time in order to participate in their child’s school. “The participation of parents in all activities of the school community sends a strong message to children that school is important and part of the family culture,” said Cohen. “The more parents are involved in their children’s education, the higher the children’s academic achievement.”  For more information on this great proposal, go to http://blogcea.org/2013/03/05/parental-engagement-key/

I also came across a blog that mentioned a book that I have ordered called Do Parents Know They Matter? Raising achievement through parental engagementWritten by, Alma Harris, Kirstie Andrew-Power, and Janet Goodall.  I believe that it will provide new ideas and resources to promote parent engagement in my classroom.  If you would like to read the blog, here is the address.

http://alyshiamarli.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/attention-parents-do-you-know-you-matter-when-it-comes-to-your-childs-academic-success/

My hope is that if I can be successful in my room, then I can share my ideas with my peers and together we can change the climate of parental inaction on a larger scale.  One blogger pointed out that when you get families more engaged in their child’s education, it not only benefits them but that benefit is magnified many times over in the community.

I would love to hear your input and ideas for my passion!

What is the first instance of parent involvement/communication in August for you?

How do you deal with the “eager beavers” that are always in your room?

How do you approach parents that have shown hostility towards you?

What roles do parents play in your center/school?

What methods do you use to communicate with parents?

How do you feel about using social media to communicate with parents?

Is your administration open to new and creative ideas to get parents involved in your school?

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2 thoughts on “How do I make family engagement fun?

  1. Kim – I think parent engagement is such a hot topic , but one that not everyone agrees upon. I think so often teachers want parents to be involved, but criticize when parents are unwilling to be involved. I think the bigger issue is helping teachers to understand the barriers that parents face in terms of “parent engagement” as well as how those barriers compare to teachers’ barriers. I presented on this last year at Indiana’s AEYC conference. I would love to hear more on this subject from you.

    • Kacey,

      Thanks for your comments and I agree with you that teachers need to try to understand parents and the obstacles they face in regards to their children. I have participated in two professional development activities in Understanding Poverty with Ruby Payne and I was motivated to learn more about her work. I have learned much about how the parents of my students have different values and goals and she makes some great suggestions about ways to foster relationships. I know there is not a “fix” for every situation, but it is important to me that I keep trying to reach out and let parents know how vital they are to their child’s educational journey.

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