At Walkabouts, we believe in engaging all stakeholders in students’ education. Right from the start of the school year, encourage family involvement at the school and in the classroom. A strong partnership between a school and a family can truly make a difference in a child’s academic journey.
MEET AND MINGLE OPPORTUNITIES
Before and during the school year, hold non-traditional events for students, their families, and school staff and administrators to get to know one another better.
- Summer Meet and Greet: After teachers have their class lists, consider setting up meet and greet opportunities at the school playground prior to the first day of school. This is a great time for students and families to meet teachers, administrators, and support staff; connect with friends; and engage with new classmates.
- Family Game Night: Invite families to the school for a family game night. Include stations around the classroom or school with classic board games, educational games, age-appropriate video games, and movement-rich games and activities such as hopscotch, musical chairs, limbo, or Simon Says. If desired, provide materials for families to design and create their own board games.
- Family Book Club: Reading is a great way for parents to connect with their children and with other families. Choose a chapter book or novel that is appropriate for all elementary students, and set a goal for families to read one chapter each week. Hold regular family book club discussions in person or via a web-based platform such as Zoom. During the book club meetings, students and families can share their thoughts about the chapter or even act out favorite scenes.
Regular communication is key for family engagement. With school schedules, work schedules, and extra-curricular activities, weeks can get chaotic and months can fly by!
- Monthly Classroom Calendar: At a classroom level, teachers should strive to send home monthly calendars with an overview of curriculum themes and topics as well as important classroom and school events.
- Classroom Apps: Apps can be a great way to send out information and reminders. In today’s world, nothing beats the convenience of digital communication.
- Teacher Website: Establish a teacher website through your school to serve as a one-stop shop for announcements, assignments, newsletters, etc.
At the administrative level, principals should strive to send regular school updates with weekly highlights, activity recaps, reminders of upcoming events, FYIs, school community news, and action items for families and students.
Regularly sharing information can keep families in the loop, and allow them to actively engage with their students’ education.
VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES: CLASSROOM AND SCHOOL-WIDE
At a classroom level, teachers may request parent volunteers for field trips, celebrations, or to lend an extra hand during some classroom activities. Whether monitoring students, reading stories, or facilitating a learning activity, students love having their parents volunteer for these types of events so they can get a glimpse into the classroom.
At a school-wide level, administrators may request parent volunteers for school events both during and outside of the school day for special occasions or everyday needs (athletic events, book fairs, media center assistants, science fairs, spirit week, field day, etc.). These opportunities may be student specific or may offer opportunities for parents to be a part of the school community whether or not their child is participating.
For all volunteer opportunities, when facilitated with web-based applications, signing up volunteers is a breeze. Parents can easily select the opportunity that works best for them and update as needed. Predetermined lists for classrooms, grade levels, or the whole school will make sign-ups quick and convenient for all.
Note: School districts may require volunteers who interact with students to complete a background check or other forms. Have forms or applicable website links available.
EDUCATIONAL AND OTHER SUPPORT OPPORTUNITIES
Host informative workshops and family-friendly events throughout the year to share tips and strategies for supporting learning at home. Topics could range from math and reading strategies to ways to keep the family active on weekends and during school breaks.
- Guest Speakers: What issues are important to the families in the school community? Consider inviting guest speakers such as local writers or community leaders to discuss these topics with families.
- Parent Education Workshops: Parent education workshops can cover a range of topics such as strategies for managing screen time, fostering a growth mindset, test-taking strategies, and effective study habits. Invite school and district administrators and teachers to hold interactive workshops on a variety of topics. Be sure to record the workshops and share them on the school’s website. Sharing valuable tips and techniques can help parents to create a positive learning environment at home.
- Health Fair or Health Clinic: An educational health fair or a health clinic can provide a valuable service to families. Ask local pediatricians, nurses, dentists, sports medicine specialists, nutritionists, psychologists, or other medical professionals to set up informational tables, donate health-related prizes, serve as guest speakers, or provide their services to families free of charge.
Increasing family involvement and building strong relationships with families fosters student success. Teachers and administrators, make sure to incorporate these approaches this school year to bolster family engagement.
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