Parental involvement makes a difference in a child’s education. According to the Center for Public Education, two-thirds of teachers believe students of involved parents perform better, while nearly 75 percent of parents say children with uninvolved parents are more likely to suffer academically. That’s why it is important for parents to know how to get involved at their children’s schools and make a real difference.
What Is a Parent Leader?
Dr. John Barge, State School Superintendent of Georgia, describes a parent leader as “one who is able to provide support to parents, students, teachers, and constituents in their community with the objective of obtaining positive outcomes for everyone.” Parent leaders are role models and advocate for other families, not just their own. They also have the knowledge and skills to be a powerful voice in improving education. Lori Beverage explains becoming involved is the first step to becoming a parent leader and increasing students’ success.
How to Get Involved
A leading expert on parent involvement, Joyce Epstein of the Johns Hopkins University Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships, divided school–parent involvement programs into six categories:
- Parenting – Schools provide information on child development and offer advice on learner-friendly home environments.
- Communication – Schools educate families about children’s progress and school services and provide opportunities for parent–school communication.
- Volunteering – Parents have opportunities to visit schools and receive training to work in the school or classroom.
- Learning at home – Schools share ideas for at-home learning with high expectations and strategies so parents can monitor and help with homework.
- Decision-making – Schools include families as partners in school organizations, panels, and committees.
- Community collaboration – Community and business groups work with schools to encourage family participation in the community.
Becoming a Parent Leader
Dr. Barge recommends seven ways to become a parent leader:
- Provide support and leadership through active engagement in your child’s education.
- Work collaboratively with school administrators and teachers to learn about the school’s infrastructure and share the information with other parents.
- Support your child’s learning at home. Work with the teacher to develop homework and study habits.
- Ask questions and speak up in the decision-making processes that impact your child’s education.
- Help create opportunities for community members to support education through collaboration related to curriculum and school improvement.
- Get involved in school committees and organizations and make your talents, skills, and assistance available.
- Work collaboratively to develop a plan of action for engaging other parents to work with school administrators and improve learning for all children.
Take Advantage of Existing Parent Leadership Programs
Some school districts, like the ABC Unified School District, offer programs to develop a partnership between parents and schools. Programs include parent classes and parent involvement sessions teaching parents how to work alongside administrators. Other programs offer education workshops focusing on topics selected by parents. If your school does not offer these programs, talk to parents and school leaders and start one.
To become a parent leader, start as early as possible and forge partnerships. Bridging school and community is crucial to improving education and is the best way to become an active partner in your child’s education. For more on becoming an effective parent leader, visit K12.com or sign up to receive free info.
Image via Flickr by Innovation_School