How do you involve parents in your class?
Parent involvement is a major factor in school success: and no I don't mean homework. Head Starts have a parent involvement requirement. Since it is so important, how do we encourage parents to get more involved in their young child's education? Many parents work and don't have the free time to come visit the classroom like they may want. Here are a few ideas.
Make Parents Feel Welcome!
I have heard of many teachers who do not want parents to come in because their children do not act the same when they are around. So, they shut their doors and have parents only come in on certain days and times. How would that make you feel? Instead, you could have activities planned ahead that parents can sit down and do with children throughout the day. I have a parent helper folder that parents can choose a game or activity.
We have plays or programs that parents are invited to throughout the year. Mother's day breakfast and father's day fun will bring parents in. Make sure you plan these activities during more convenient times, such as when kids first come in or the last 20 minutes of the day. If parents work it is easier to get off early or come in a little later than get off in the middle of the day.
One teacher had a guest reader in her room every Friday. The family member could choose a book and read it to the class. And, the child got to share their family member- proud child= proud parent
Make Parents Feel Useful!
Ask parents about their talents, occupations, and gifts. I put this question on my information sheet I ask parents to fill out about their child at the beginning of the year.
Use them- Is that parent a doctor or nurse, we have donations of syringes (without the needles), gloves, booties, hats, even pretend blood specimens.
Do you have a parent who knows how to sew? Since I dont- they can mend dress up cloths or make games like these fun cloth letters from Oh so happy together.
We even had one mom make costumes for a play we did.
Do you have a parent who builds or does woodworking? I have recruited my dad to make puzzles, wooden gifts, or even little wooden cars. You can check out his creative wood art at Scrolling Art by Belcher
What about the police officers, firefighters- my dad let me borrow his uniform to try on- its less frightening when the teacher or someones mom or dad tries on the uniform than a complete stranger.
Here he is in his uniform.
Make Parents Feel Involved!
Even though parents can’t physically come in the classroom they can participate at home with take home activities. I have a book bag. It has a book and a stuffed animal that is a character from the book. Mostly supplied by Kohl’s Cares for Kids $5 books, they are hard back books and usually have a stuffed animal that goes with the book. Children get a turn to take home the book bag and read the book with their parents.
I have heard of some people who send home a stuffed animal with a journal. The child writes about the time he or she spends with the stuffed animal.
I also have games I send home which deal with a specific skill. I have a label around the house bag. It has labels and tape included so the family can label all the things in the house. It helps with reading skills
I have a surprise box, you can see the my post on how this works.
I have an art project about once a month, usually going along with holidays that gets sent home. At Thanksgiving, children take home a turkey feather to decorate. When they bring it back, we make it into a turkey. Each project turns out unique even when they start out with the same materials. At Christmas I send home a tree light shape and hang them up down the hallway. In January 3 sizes of paper doilies are sent home to make a snowman.
February is a candy heart, Spring is Easter Egg for the basket, then a flower for the garden.
Make Parents Feel Important!
Most schools have parent teacher conferences, make phone calls, and send home notes. Make sure you are keeping a majority of these experiences positive in order to keep the relationship positive. You have to be open to the needs of the parents by being a good listener. Do all your parents speak English? Do they have young children at home preventing them from helping? Are they just not sure what they should do?
Ask yourself why before you assume parents don't want to be involved. You have their most precious item. And, they have trusted in you, so trust that they want what is best for their child.
I would love to here what your ideas are for parent involvement. Please leave a comment to share.