Parent Involvement

conferencesOne of the keynote speakers this year at Frog Street Splash was Dr. Patricia Edwards, President-Elect of the IRA (International Reading Association).   Not only is she a dynamic speaker, her message is one that had the audience nodding their heads and cheering from the get go- parental involvement as the missing piece of the educational puzzle. 

I have always felt that parents should be held more accountable for their children’s education, starting from pre-k and continuing all the way up.  As early childhood educators, we often find ourselves in a position to introduce parents to school culture and induct them into this unique club of which they are new members.  How we interact with and involve parents in their child’s early learning will have significant influence on how involved they are in the rest of their child’s educational journey.  

Many teachers are resistant to the idea of parents as partners, however those are the teachers who often struggle the most with parents.  Parental involvement is a crucial part of every teacher’s job, whether the teachers like it or not.  In college teachers learn how to teach children (supposedly – this is another post entirely) but they are not taught how to teach the parents.   Teaching children is entirely different from teaching adults and often scary to those who spend all day with children under the age of six.  If pre-k and kindergarten teachers were given training in how to include parents and talk to them I believe we would see a significant increase in parental involvement.  If we do not include parents in their child’s educational process from day one it is quite possible that they may never become involved.  

I have created a “recipe”  for successfully creating partnerships with parents starting before the first day of school and continuing beyond the last day.   Several of the ingredients for this recipe are parent conferences , Family Night , Homework, and B.E.A.R. Books  to name just a few, for the entire recipe you are invited to attend the Conference for Early Childhood Educators on July 15 in Plano, TX or August 4th and 5th in Katy, TX.   

How do you involve your parents?


6 Responses

  1. I have used BEAR Books. I called them BEE Books. My students loved them. They were returned daily and had so much parent involvement. I did not use them this past year and am regretting the decision. Folders were not returned. Parents did not communicate with me well. It was harder for me. I plan to use them again this year.

    • Hi,
      Can you tell me about your BEE books. What does it stand for exactly and how did you implement it?Thanks so much

  2. I use folders for each child to keep communication open, besides taking the time to get to know the parents each day, sending home positive notes home w/ my email. I’ve have a few keep in touch through email. This year I plan to use FROGS books. I look forward to a better communication between home and school.

  3. I use BEAR books (Be Excited About Reading) for my take home reading program. The idea initially came from you of course, many moons ago! The children take home levelled text to read to their families each school day.

    I also have the parents come in as Guest Readers. The children love it. I send out a sign up the first week of school and then assign dates right away so parents can work it around work. When the parents come in they also bring a “story bit” or “story souvenir” to give to the children to take hom to keep in their story bit boxes that are kept at home. It is my hope the “bit” inspires some conversation between the child and the parents as usually they are quite excited to be read to from someone other then myself.

    Family projects are another way to get families involved, especially those families that can never seem to get to the school for anything. Each month a simple fun project is sent home assuming the family does it together.

    FLAME BAGS (Families Learning About Math Everywhere) These are simply bags of hands on math games and activities for familes to enjoy weekly.

    We also list our seasonal walk dates (4 a year) along with any other special parent days where we would like them to come in–year end picnic, mothers day etc. during the first week of the school year giving lots of time for parents to plan ahead.

    We invite any and all parents in for our “special” theme days once a month or so–usually it is the same few parents that come in but everyone has the opportunity. Our theme days also require great parent support to get them dressed up, bring theme related food etc.

    We ask for regular classroom volunteers during our first 100 minute block to help with mailbags, take home reading program, math and literacy centres.

    We have a homework fariy list for parents willing to cut, staple, organize or do other small tasks at home.

    We certainly have our parents working in Kindergarten but my hope is to have high parent involvement in any way we can so parents see it as an integral part of their child’s education.

    • Great responses! Can you give me a couple of ideas for your “story bit” or “story souvenir”. You said the parents bring it with them, they bring enough for each child to have one? How do you ask Parents to do this? Thank you

  4. If you google Story Bit or Story Souvenir you should gets lots of info. Bascially it is a tangible item that the children take home to “remember” the story to initiate discussion at home. For example a parent might give each child a paperbag after reading the Paper Bag princess. Or a piece of a blanket after reading owen. i have a newsletter I use to send home to parents I can share if you email me

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