Schools can seem very toxic to parents and students when they illicit thoughts and emotions of fear, failure, competition, shame, and punishment. Schools that love and honor students and families will be loved and cherished.
Partnerships with parents, teachers, and students require a well thought-out, proactive plan. The universal goal for all schools should be to create a place where positive parental involvement focuses on, "Supporting students success," "Creating a Positive Leaning Environment," and Developing Happy Well-adjusted Kids!" Student success is difficult or impossible when parents are not engaged, removing barriers and obstacles is the first step. Home and school dialogue is the foundation of building a strong school community and teacher-parent relationships. Seeking parental involvement and a productive school-home partnership starts with well-informed parents. Building dynamic school communities takes smart planning and buy-in from all stakeholders. Rigorous new standards, more demanding academic requirements means challenging times for students and families, schools need to rethink, re-imagine, reevaluate, reexamine and reinvent school-home communications. Relevance in today ever-changing education climates demands we push for more and better dialog with parents.
- Create a school culture of gratitude, grace and caring! Thank parents, students and staff with positive praise, encouragement and uplifting sentiments daily and weekly. Ask parents to write positive notes weekly about their child to share with their teacher. Teachers and principals should select one child every day and write a positive note home.
- Celebrate progress and success, cheer on students and parents when students meet a new academic benchmark or demonstrate positive academic growth, Celebrate openly students and parents with uplifting attitudes. Parents and students do not always feel included or successful in our new high-stakes testing environment. Seeing their child in a positive light and successful academically feeds into a success loop.
- Create an open door policy, invite parents to visit your school and classroom at a level you are comfortable with.
- Parents must understand they are a very important part of the learning success team, and without them, their child will not make stellar gains. Acquiring new academic skills is very stressful at times for parents and students. Creating a team attitude helps alleviate the stress.
- Creating a positive dialogue with families, students, staff and community leaders. 1. Look for connections by sharing what you/they value, and seek connections, 2, clarify the "why" to parents and students, what, why, where, and how can barriers and hindrance create difficulties, e.g. "why are writing assignments not being finished," 3. voice concerns in clear ways that are never about laying blame, and 4. ask for suggestions and offer suggestions that are not accusatory.
- Create a community of leaders, Academic Acculturation Liaisons, and family ambassadors that help with new parent orientation.
- Create a clear and ongoing set of communication tools to help parents understand academic requirements, expectations, rules, and norms of positive mental and emotional attitudes of success. Creating a student success newsletter is an essential communication tool, and is easy when shared with a school team. Sharing uplifting and important news with parents is a powerful tool, set a goal to share with parents and families once a month at a minimum. The newsletter should be in multiple languages when communicating with immigrant families. Communicating regularly, weekly is preferred on a designated day, where all home school communications is a good way to help parents stay informed.
- Creating a win-win environment of mutual understanding and respect. Remind parents and students constantly that that help, cooperation, involvement is needed and required.
- Organize a Family Welcome Center with school and community information, refreshments, volunteer opportunities, and a genuine interest in suggestions. Make families always and welcomed, valued, and respected at school.
- Create a special education parent liaison that helps with IEPs and has a clear understanding of your schools SST, 504 and IEP process.
- Organized a family outreach program that matches families, parents, and students with needed community resources and services. Strong families and students build a strong school community.