It is common sense that family involvement in schools is essential to increasing student achievement. Research also suggests it reduces risky behaviors and improves attitudes about school among students.
However, family involvement in schools doesn’t always come easy. For one, schools and parents often have a different understanding of what that involvement should look like. In addition, there can be cultural and language barriers and other issues such as lack of knowledge about how the school system works that make it difficult to get families involved. So what can school board members do to seize opportunities and address challenges to involving families in schools?
A new National School Boards Association (NSBA) publication, Families as Partners: Fostering Family Engagement for Healthy and Successful Students, presents an interesting suggestion. According to the publication, from a school district perspective, family engagement in health issues can be an excellent first step toward getting families involved in schools as they are often more willing to address health issues than potentially intimidating academic issues. In fact, a recently published Center for Public Education (CPE) document shows a similar thread and relays that an effective means to getting families at the door can be a targeted involvement to solve a particular problem – like poor attendance or behavior.
At first it can seem overwhelming to involve families in schools as families comes with differing views and expectations regarding the school system and their children’s learning. But the benefits outweigh the challenges and ultimately improve student achievement! So in thinking of ways to address challenges and seize opportunities to involving families, BoardBuzz would like you to check out some important strategies outlined in the documents above:
- Recognize that all families, regardless of income, education, or cultural background are involved in their children’s learning and want their children to do well;
- Investigate how families want to be involved and how teachers want families to be involved;
- Address family involvement through a coordinated school health framework, which includes a family involvement component;
- Foster district-wide strategies including reviewing policies and procedures to effectively engage families;
- Ask what families need to know to be involved and how well your district and schools are meeting those needs;
- Build the capacity of your board and staff to strengthen family engagement; and
- Continue to survey or track the effects of involvement.
To learn more about steps to take to accomplish some of those strategies, view Families as Partners. In addition, check out NSBA’s new Family Engagement in School Health webpage to access relevant resources such as sample policies, surveys, and tools created by NSBA to help school leaders better engage families.
How is your school district addressing family involvement? What have been some of the outcomes? Drop us a comment!