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Parental involvement plays a critical role in students’ academic success. When you work with parents, you get the extra support needed to help struggling children turn around their performance. You also encourage a lifelong love of learning in every student, creating more engaged and excited learners. By opening the lines of communication, encouraging parental presence in the classroom and offering opportunities for home enrichment, teachers can bring parents on board as partners in education.

The Value of the Parent Advocate

Parents that are advocates for their children’s education spend more time on school projects, assist with homework and volunteer at schools. Their children perform better on standardized tests, earn higher grades, enjoy school more, develop better social skills and are more likely to complete higher education, according to “A New Wave of Evidence,” published by the National Center for Family & Community Connections with Schools. A study published in Educational Psychology: An International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology in 2010 also noted a positive correlation between student engagement and motivation with parental involvement. With all of the benefits of parental involvement, teachers have an obligation to make it a priority.

Tips for Clear Communication

Both teachers and parents are invested in the success of the child, and an open dialogue between teachers and parents can lead directly to better academic results. A child who is struggling with math can get some extra drills at home, while a child who is having trouble with reading comprehension might have a few extra exercises that are led by their parents. To get parents involved in supporting academics at home, they need to be informed about their child’s specific needs. To open up the lines of communication, consider sending out weekly progress reports, scheduling phone meetings, having face-to-face meetings and sending home extra materials for parents to keep at home.

Opening the Classroom to Parents

Teachers can always use an extra pair of hands to pass out papers, organize supplies, help with line monitoring and complete many daily tasks. This can make a parent assistant a valuable tool in creating an encouraging and comprehensive learning environment. Invite parents to volunteer in the classroom to give them extra exposure to current teaching methods and curriculum. They can then use consistent vocabulary when discussing schoolwork with children at home. To organize volunteers, teachers can send out regular invitations or post a volunteer schedule that allows parents to see what teachers need and when.

Send the Classroom Home

Many parents spend considerable time at home going over homework and offering other instructional activities. To make the best use of this time, be sure to stay in touch with parents. Send home packets with suggested school-home connections, enrichment activities and tip sheets for ways to integrate classroom learning with daily life. The more parents know, the more they can support their children’s education in appropriate ways. Give them the necessary tools to translate academics to home life.

Build a Long Term Relationship

The more comfortable parents are talking to teachers, the more likely they are to devote time to volunteerism, fundraising, PTA organizations and other school activities. Parent volunteers can be essential in the continuation of after-school activities and academic improvement. Volunteerism from parents allows schools to provide services that would be impossible without their assistance. The Minnesota Reading Corps is a stellar example of what volunteers can accomplish. Each student receives dedicated time with a tutor to work on reading skills through the Reading Corps program. By building relationships with parents, teachers harness an opportunity for their students that can last for years, as children advance from kindergarten through school graduation. Teachers are the first line of communication between parents and the school, so it falls to you to communicate often, ask for help and engage parents as an active part of the learning process.