Dear Early Childhood Educators,
Happy Spring! I hope, wherever you are, you are enjoying the change of season and the final months of the school semester!
Since I began this blog two years ago, one very important aspect of early childhood education I haven’t addressed yet is parent involvement and parent engagement.
Last year, the Office of Head Start introduced the Head Start Parent, Family and Community Engagement Framework. The framework emphasizes the need for early childhood programs to take an active role in encouraging school and family partnerships, especially in the area of parent involvement and engagement in supporting children’s school readiness and success in school.
Research shows that when children have involved parents, the results are very positive, especially over the long term. (A New Wave of Evidence, 2002)
Children who have involved and engaged parents are more likely to:
*Earn higher grades and better test scores.
* Attend school regularly.
* Demonstrate good social skills and behavior.
* Adapt well to the school environment.
* Pass their classes and be promoted.
* Graduate and enroll in higher level education programs.
How can teachers encourage parents to be involved and engaged ?
Henderson & Mapp (2002) suggest the following:
1. Recognize that all parents can be involved in their children’s learning and want their children to do well.
2. Create a program that will help families support and guide their children’s learning.
3. Develop programs within the school to provide staff training on techniques, methods and parent involvement activities that will promote parent engagement.
4. Work to build trusting and respectful relationships between the family, the community and the school.
5. Establish partnerships and shared power with families, encouraging all to understand the importance of their participation in children’s educational growth and development.
Dr. Epstein of Johns Hopkins University has identified six types of involvement:
1. Parenting – basic parent skills including discipline, setting expectations and providing a home environment conducive to learning.
2. Communicating – contact, both parent and school initiated, relative to student learning.
3. Volunteering – giving time to be involved in school events.
4. Learning at Home – involvement in learning activities at home including homework and extra-curricular activities.
5. Decision Making – participating in school decision making or governance through a parent organization.
6. Collaborating with Community- Coordinating learning with community activities for families.
Some specific examples of ways to encourage parent involvement include:
1. Establish ways for teachers and parents to be in constant communication through a variety of means including daily contact at drop off and pick up of the child, email, telephone, newsletters, parent-teacher conferences and school events.
2. Provide opportunities for parent education and learning by creating parent education workshops, showing educational films, scheduling lectures by experts and establishing discussion circles or book groups.
3. Encourage parents to observe the classroom in session, volunteer to be a story reader, lunch helper, field trip assistant.
4. Suggest to parents that they join the parent-teacher organizations, fund-raising committees, curriculum study groups and community networking organizations.
Encouraging parents to play an active role in the educational life of their children and establishing effective home-school-community partnerships has shown to greatly benefit the children in their school success.
Are there some specific ways you have found to encourage parent involvement?
How have parents responded?
Best wishes to all,