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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Parent Participation

I've been both a working Mom and a Stay-at-Home Mom. On both sides I always felt my child's education was ultimately my responsibility and their teacher was my partner. "Our" teacher not only educates my child. She is "my" teacher too. The teacher is there to see things I can't see and to educate me in the best ways to assist educating my child. I love it when the teacher sends me a note home (good or bad). I love hearing what my girl did that day. I love when the teacher asks for my help. I feel more connected with my child when I know what's going on in her classroom. I am my happiest when I've contributed to my child's education. So that is the kind of teacher I strive to be. A teacher that keeps my parents involved, connected, and feeling confident about their child being in my classroom. How can you keep your parents involved? How would you like to be included in your child's learning experiences?

Ways to partner with your parents:

  • Send notes home
  • Send an email
  • Surprise your students/parents with a phone call
  • Create weekly/monthly newsletters
  • Create a website
  • Invite them to your class
  • Send pictures with captions on the back
  • A daily/notebook or folder brought to and form school
  • Create a bulletin board just for parents


  1. You are absolutely right - teachers are such a valuable resource for parents and communication is a must. I love your ideas for promoting good communication from teacher to parent.

  2. This is an important list with great ideas! There is something missing: ideas for reaching out to parents who are not native English speakers. Right now, close to 25% of preschool-aged children in America come from immigrant families. Preschool programs can be very effective in helping these families and children feel welcome if they are conscious of language differences.
    * Try to have all written materials translated (share with neighboring schools and programs).
    * Use photos (as you suggest)
    * Avoid slang - even parents who have learned English may not understand.
    * Ask bilingual parents and staff to form a language and culture committee to help with this outreach - making the participating parents feel like important contributors to your program.
    * Invite local adults services, such as ESL classes, to use your space so parents can get what they need in your building while their children are in your classes.
    * Invite parents to share their culture via cooking, music, games, and stories.
    * Make sure the environment (books, posters, music, art) reflects the languages and cultures of families you want to serve.
    * Making your environment more realistic will help your enrolled families feel more connected and will encourage new families who may have been hesitant to feel comfortable sending their children to your program.

  3. I agree--- parents and teachers working together is so valuable! It makes such a positive difference for children! Providing ideas for fun interactive learning in everyday life is also so beneficial!

    Great post!

  4. Thanks for all your helpful comments!...Karen that was superb! There is an Elementary School not far from my house, year after year it continued to fail academically. A team of very special teachers got together to tackle the problem. What they found out was there had been an increase of families from Haiti and neither the parents or children were fluent in English. Can you imagine your child bringing home school work and you're unable to help? And too embarrassed to say to the teacher, "I can't read this". How Sad? To the teachers it may have appeared these parents didn't care about their child's education. This team of teachers recruited people from the community that spoke french and variations of the dialect to translate for the parents and students. The community also offered these families additional resources such as financial aid for school, English classes, after school study groups, etc. Amazingly, this school did a complete turn around and is now an "A" school!

  5. Wow, SO glad I found your blog... very helpful stuff here.

    One thing I started this year (with my move to kindergarten) is eliminating the weekly newsletter and replacing it with a daily email/note. I know it sounds overwhelming to send an email every day, but really, it takes about 5-10 minutes and I've found the parents just LOVE it. It gives them an opportunity to discuss what we're doing each day with their child. I also can provide daily reminders (bring back that library book!).

    Another bonus is I don't HAVE to do a weekly newsletter... something I truly hate doing. No cutesy clip-art for me!

  6. I really like the reminder of the parent perspective of *liking* to get notes sent home! I'm always a little nervous talking with parents, I have to admit. But, it's a necessity.