Professional Development

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Ideas on How to Get Families Involved

Friday, 23 August 2013 00:00

The best way to get families involved? Get them engaged with what their kids are doing. Gain their interest and make parents feel comfortable with fun and enjoyable family-centered activities.

1. Determine Their Interest

Survey your families at the beginning of the school year to learn the best time, place and topics to provide. Ask them questions about what the need, what they'd like, where and when they can participate, and how to best communicate with them.

2. Remember The Atmosphere
Create a welcoming, family-friendly atmosphere any time families enter your building, whether it is to pick up their child, attend a teacher meeting or take a workshop.

3. Schedule Mindfully
Schedule enrichment opportunities for families to coincide with other activities happening in the school (For example, PTA meeting, concert, awards assembly, etc.)

4. Know Your Community
Ensure your program content is relevant and accessible for the families you serve. For example, if your community serves a multitude of nationalities, consider a multi-cultural food celebration honoring each ethnic community.

5. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise
Successful family engagement takes ongoing recruitment and retention efforts; distribute flyers to students to bring home, keep the time and location consistent so parents can rely on the structure you have created, construct a parent phone or text chain to remind each other and provide incentives such as raffles along the way.

6. Go The Extra Mile
Do your best to provide solutions for any economic obstacles (food, child care, resources) that may make it challenging for parents or families to attend school workshops and events.

7. Staff It Well
Provide an engaging, dynamic facilitator for family workshops and events; one who is familiar with the community, well-versed on the topic being addressed and can speak the primary language of the participants.

8. Involve the Students
Design opportunities for students and their parents to participate together in workshops or events, to increase family bonding and build a strong school-based community.

9. Find Leaders
Encourage leadership opportunities for parents who attend consistently whether as a guest facilitator, a translator, a host or on an event committee. Always thank them and celebrate their participation at the end.

10. Celebrate!
Provide certificates and ceremonies to recognize your parent community achievements; display their artwork, distribute an award for outstanding volunteer work, award a certificate for frequent attendance at workshops or one for achieving their personal goals through the enrichment opportunities you have offered.

For more ideas on engaging families, contact Amanda Meeson at!

The Leadership Program is a national leadership youth development organizations that works everywhere from classrooms to boardrooms. They are based out of New York City.