Courtney Dealy & Samantha Whaley, MPA - Boys Town National Training
Parental involvement in children’s education is essential to a student’s academic success. The outcomes include higher grades and test scores, greater school attendance, higher rates of homework completion, more positive attitudes and behavior, higher graduation rates, and increased enrollment in higher education. However, for some families, there are significant personal, cultural, and structural barriers inhibiting a positive partnership between school and families. As educators we can take steps to break down these barriers and improve our relationships with parents and increase their engagement in their children’s education.
Melisa Bryant, an award-winning teacher and Home Visit Teacher Trainer in D.C., said, “I learned from the home visits that all parents care about their children’s education...If parents don’t help with academics, it’s because they don’t know how, not that they don’t care.”
Teachers can take intentional steps to form positive relationships with and engage students’ families:
Dr. Joe Mazza gives the advice: “I ask my teachers to teach as if the parents of their students were in the back of the room, and to work with parents as if the students were their own children.”
Approach family engagement with a positive attitude and create a welcoming environment. Build trust and communication. You may work with families whose involvement inhibits students’ learning, families who do not readily engage, and families with whom you work in concert. Regardless, learn something from them and be ready to teach them something as well.