Every week ClassDojo run a chat based on some aspect of education under the hashtag #dojochateu. I type in my own thoughts to the questions that are asked and publish them on this blog. This week the topic was based on Parental Engagement.
Q1 What works best for schools trying to increase family engagement? How do we meet parents where they are at?
With so many parents working or busy, it can be difficult to get family engagement. We try our best all the time to engage parents in anything we can think of. Last year we opened a garden in the front of the school that is designed to be maintained by teachers, parents and pupils. We’re working hard on parental engagement and trying out different things. Hopefully when the weather gets better, we’ll have it buzzing with parents, butterflies and bees! We also have offered art classes, computer classes and even Zumba. Furthermore, the teachers in the school invite parents regularly into classes to help.
Q2. How do you maintain a level of engagement/involvement from parents throughout the year? How can we make this a richer experience?
I think parental engagement has to be mutually beneficial for the school and the parent. This is something that can be difficult to do as schools cannot offer tangible rewards to parents. We’re looking at certification and references for parents who engage with the school but I think we need to build up our menu of what we do to make it as inclusive to everyone.
Q3 Many schools and teachers are wary of engaging parents more directly. What advice would you give them?
Without parents, there would be no school. Children love seeing their parents engaging in the school too (even if they don’t openly show it.) These are two good reasons. However, in every group of people, there are always some bad apples and I think this is where the fear comes along – why would I be inviting trouble into my classroom? However, should we punish 99% of parents for the actions of a very small minority? I think the best thing to do is start small with something that can’t go wrong – e.g. a parent comes in to read a story to the class, and build from there.