Tired of the same ol' tips and tricks for encouraging parent involvement? Whether you are looking to freshen things up a bit before the end of the year, or you are setting plans in motion for next year's class, here are 11 tips for welcoming parents into your "home away from home".
1. Create a Class Blog
On my class blog, parents can find class updates, access to newsletters, suggested websites for students to gain extra practice at home, and pictures of our learning. You can easily create a free blog via Blogger, snag one of their templates, and be up and running within minutes!
2. Send updates using Remind
I love this website because it allows parents to sign up to receive text or email alerts from teachers. Parents choose which way they want content delivered. Download the app right onto your Smartphone, or control alerts from their website.
3. Create a newsletter
Keep your parents up to date about weekly or monthly happenings via a newsletter. You can send a hard copy home with the students, or go green by emailing a digital copy.
4. Ask for parent volunteers
Even if your parents do not have easy access to the school, many parents may be willing to volunteer from afar. Whether they organize a supply donation for the classroom or send their child off to school with a neat book to share, don't assume that guardians do not want to be involved just because distance is a challenge.
5. Provide a list of online websites
In my experience, parents love when they know of a few educational, interactive websites or apps for download in which children can reinforce skills learned in school while at home. I use SymbalooEDU to congregate all my favorite sites.
6. Give online access - ClassDojo.com
ClassDojo is just one of a few websites that track student progress. You can even give parents their own login information to check the status of their child whenever they want.
7. Send home personalized notes
I try to send home positive, personal notes about students at least once a month. I rotate each week between students to lessen the load. I love this strategy the most because it helps to build a more positive, trusting relationships with parents and students.
8. Create a classroom Instagram Account
You may need to run this one past your Administrator, but I started a class Instagram this year and we LOVE it! The students get super excited to be "featured" (I blur out faces for privacy concerns), and parents love getting a "live" peek into our classroom as we progress through our day.
Sometimes in-person interactions just aren't possible. Offer to conference in with a parent face-to-face via Skype. This feels more personal than a phone call. In June, I am offering an end of year Skype workshop for my parents on how they can extend learning into the summer.
10. Make phone calls
Similar to the personalized notes mentioned above, be sure to call parents from time to time. It doesn't have to be anything lengthy, just a quick update on how little John or Jane is doing. This tip is especially helpful when I need to contact home about something more serious. Because parents are more used to hearing from me, they are more receptive to the conversation.
11. Get a translator
If possible, have someone translate any verbal or written communication for parents that may not speak English.
Have any other suggestions for keeping parents involved? Leave your comments below!