By Jessica Vician
Did you know that a child only spends eight percent of his or her time in school from birth through high school graduation?
The other 92 percent of the time, the child is either at home or doing parent-approved activities.
That’s all the more reason to ensure that your students’ parents know how to practice effective parent engagement with their children so that they will perform better in school.
Giving your students’ parents the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher book set is the first step in an effective parent engagement strategy for your school, but these parents must understand why they should read and implement the strategies presented in the books.
We recommend rolling out your parent engagement plan by presenting the books at a parent workshop, which teaches parents how to use the books, how to best communicate with the school, and how to care for their children in a way that helps them be successful in school and in life.
If you are unable to distribute the books at a parent workshop, consider these ideas to encourage parents to read and use the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher books.
Give Parents An Incentive
Just like students, parents are more likely to read the books if they know they’re going to be quizzed on them.
1.When you give parents the books, tell them that their children’s teachers will talk to them about book highlights at the first parent-teacher conference of the year. Ask teachers from each grade level to read a specific passage for talking points.
2. Host quarterly book clubs, providing parents a chance to ask teachers and administrators questions that come up while reading the books. By giving parents direct access to administrators and teachers in an informal setting, you encourage them to come prepared to chat openly about issues they’re facing. They are also more likely to be receptive to your recommendations in this environment.
3. Further incentivize the book club discussion by offering fee discounts if you can. We’ve seen tremendous turnout in districts when the school offers to waive a technology fee or something similar.
Teach Them the Importance of Parent Engagement
Parents need to understand why they should open these books and start reading for the betterment of their child’s life and academic success.
At the very least, when you distribute the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher books to parents, give them a printed color copy of this infographic on how to practice parent engagement from our parent-facing website. The infographic details the importance of parent engagement and provides activities that parents can do with their children that address each of the four areas of child success.
Making these books available to parents is a wonderful gift, but you must inspire parents to read them before you and your teachers can see the results in the students. These tactics have helped other districts who are unable to roll-out a comprehensive parent engagement program. We hope they will help your district, too.