Evidence That It Works
A study of over 1,000 diverse preK through 12th grade parents and caregivers across five school districts asked what schools had done to make them feel welcome and unwelcome.
Responses showed that there are specific actions that schools can take to welcome families, including improving the positive attitude of school employees, simplifying the school registration process, offering welcoming activities, providing opportunities for special needs students, taking action against bullying, recognizing the needs of military families, and appreciating diversity.
Why Does It Matter?
Parents and caregivers are a child’s first teachers, and schools and teachers can benefit tremendously from their insight into a student’s needs, interests, habits, etc. In addition, research shows that parental involvement in schools boosts students’ academic and social-emotional outcomes, and improves the school climate overall.
Yet, oftentimes parents and caregivers need to know that their insight and help are needed and wanted by schools, especially if they come from backgrounds that do not match the dominant culture of the school. Thus, it is up to the schools to make the effort to reach out and welcome parents into what can be a robust and fruitful partnership.
As the research demonstrates, there are many ways for schools to encourage family involvement–and sometimes all it takes is a friendly smile to welcome them in.