By Jessica Vician
One of the requirements of a parent engagement program funded through Title I is to build capacity for involvement by teaching students’ parents how to help their children academically at home.
Our founder Sunny P. Chico has said that in over 35 years in the education industry, she has never met a parent who didn’t want to be a better parent. Some parents just need direction on how to help their children succeed. As an educator, you can teach them how to support their children’s classroom learning at home with these five tips.
Explain how a positive home environment boosts academic achievement.
A child has four core needs that must be met in order to succeed: physical health, academic development, social well-being, and emotional well-being. If a parent is nurturing those needs, the child will come to school each morning ready to learn. But if even one of those needs is not being met, the child will be distracted.
For example, if the student didn’t have breakfast, he or she can’t focus on the math lesson because of a rumbling stomach. If the student witnessed his or her parents fighting last night, he or she might be feeling too upset to focus on today’s reading activities. If your students’ parents know that by nurturing these needs, they can help their children be better students, they can take initiative at home.
Share the best ways to communicate with their children’s teachers.
Throughout the school year, a teacher should remind parents of the best way to reach him or her with questions or concerns. Explain the importance of regular communication with the child’s teacher, including email, parent-teacher conferences, and any other communication methods. Consider adding this reminder to your school newsletter.
Give parents concrete engagement examples and goals to reach.
The more specific you are, the more likely the parents are to follow your advice and reach those goals. We can encourage them to be a more “engaged parent,” but if they don’t have a specific example of what that means, they might not know where to start.
Think of how much easier it is for a student to start a paper when he or she is assigned a topic. It’s the same for the parent. Remind your parents of how to address those four core needs at home. If you need inspiration, we outlined eight parent engagement activities ranging from simple to more challenging on our parent-facing website YOU Parent.
Encourage parents to maintain a school routine for their children.
It’s common knowledge (and scientifically proven) that children thrive on routine, but giving parents a school routine is important, too.
Parents should create and regularly enforce an established bedtime for the kids so that they are well-rested in the morning and ready to learn. Parents should also check their children’s backpacks when they come home and before they leave for school so that they know what homework needs to be done and what is going back to school to be turned in. They should have a plan for homework support, too.
Emphasize critical thinking at home.
Teachers help students develop and exercise critical thinking skills in the classroom at every age. Encourage your students’ parents to model critical thinking skills at home by giving them tips.
For example, when their children ask questions, parents can provide accurate answers that address beliefs, ideas, and reasoning. These are great starting points for deeper conversations with children. And if the parents don’t know the answer to their children’s questions, they should admit that and research the answer with the children. Those actions demonstrate that not only is not knowing an answer okay, but that finding the answer is often just a click away.
These are just five ways that you can encourage your students’ parents to practice parent engagement at home, but there are many more strategies and skills that both parents and educators can learn through the YOU Program parent workshops and training workshops, respectively. Throughout the program—whether through the books, workshops, or YouParent.com—we teach parents and educators the link between parent involvement and student achievement and how to best leverage those skills for student success. If you are a Title I school looking to satisfy your parent involvement goals, please contact us about our programs.