8 Ways to Engage Families for Student Success

Teachers listen at workshop

On Tuesday, November 8, as part of a workshop for Woburn Public School teachers, President of SCI David Crowley taught a couple of sessions discussing the importance of both engaging families and involving communities for student success. In today’s post, we will be focusing on the barriers and the SOLUTIONS that have helped teachers overcome family engagement issues.

David began the workshop by introducing the term 'social capital' and using it as a way to think about the value of family and community support for students. Many teachers thought of words like network and resources in relation to social capital - putting them exactly on the right track.  As David went on to indicate, social capital at the family and community levels have both been shown to improve educational outcomes.

This got teachers thinking of barriers to school involvement that individual family's confront, and also barriers that they themselves confront on a school-wide level. Some barriers included: language, work schedules, cultural, personal negative experiences some parents may have had during their education, technology, communication, lack of support from community/elected officials, and access to transportation.

What really got the teachers discussing and engaged when listing off these barriers was the solutions that they had already been enacting within their classrooms, as well as ideas that they had for the future.

So, what works?

  • Translators! Translators are now available at a number of school events, as well as translating documents. Some teachers are now working to find parents to act as advocates for families who are non-English speaking as well

  • Having childcare available during parent nights or English Learner events

  • Writing newsletters to parents and maintaining open communication

  • Meeting parents face-to-face, whether it be in their own home or at an event. Participants noted that home visits can be a good way for reaching parents that might not feel comfortable in a school setting.

  • Continual positive feedback to parents regarding their students academics

  • Inviting parents into the classroom for a normal day highlighting what their child has been working on

  • Sending a weekly note home to the parents regarding something their child has learned or accomplished that week; thus building up a positive feeling about school.

  • Parent University: a monthly program at Woburn Memorial HIgh School which educates parents on a variety of topics, as well as provides resources

These ideas have all proved to work for some teachers within the Woburn Public School system. Pending ideas include a parent-teacher breakfast, where parents and teachers can come together as people to discuss topics outside the realm of their children, education, school etc.

We encourage educators to share their ideas on engaging families for student success!