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Creative Ways to Increase Parent Involvement

by Erica Loop

If you think parental involvement simply means going to a bake sale or writing a check to a parent-teacher organization, think again. Parental involvement can go much deeper in terms of your experiences and the benefits they bring. According to the Michigan Department of Education, parent participation in a child's schooling can help raise grades, build self-esteem and improve test scores.

Counter Time Objections

According to experts at the website for PTO Today, parent objections to volunteering or participating in school-related activities are a common obstacle to building solid family involvement. A common objection is the time commitment that's typically required for volunteer activities. Instead of simply agreeing with parents when they say volunteer activities take up too much time, come up with creative solutions. Let parents know they can volunteer for activities that require less of a time commitment or their schedule can be accommodated to fit the volunteer opportunities.

Telecommute

Telecommuting isn't just for the work. If you are struggling to raise your parent participation numbers at your child's school, consider an at-home option. Some parents might want to participate in school-related activities, but don't have the time during the school day, don't have transportation or don't feel comfortable with in-school volunteering. Remedy that by giving parents the opportunity to help out from home. Ways that parents can telecommute include sending out e-mail blasts or newsletters, making posters for school events or creating a tally spreadsheet for fundraiser orders.

Include Diversity

Don't forget to consider the diverse student body in your child's school. Some parents might not participate in school activities because they don't understand the cultural significance, don't celebrate specific holidays or events that the school does, or aren't native English speakers. The experts at PTO Today suggest that schools and parent involvement groups offer multicultural events to celebrate diversity and include all of the families. Additionally, it is helpful, when recruiting participants who might not speak or read English well, to translate all written materials into other languages.

Fun Events

Counting the orders for your third-grader's candy bar fundraiser probably isn't the most fun that you had all week. Think about how other parents feel about the same types of dull involvement activities. Spice up the parent involvement program by adding a few fun-filled events to attract new participants. Before the school year starts, have a picnic at a park or have a family barbecue. During the school year, don't limit your recruitment methods to the occasional e-mail or handout letter. Have a coffee and breakfast meet-and-greet for the parents at drop-off time before the school day starts or have a potluck dinner to inform potential parent volunteers about your organization.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

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