A sincere partnership between schools and families benefits everyone, especially students, said Country Heights Elementary School principal Stacy Harper.
It is for this reason that schools strive to involve parents, guardians and families of students as much as possible in the educational process. Family events are part of this, as well as the family’s participation in extracurricular activities.
Parent-teacher meetings are another way for schools to communicate and involve families.
When there is open communication and a trusting relationship between homes and schools, everyone involved in the education process is empowered, Harper said.
“Schools work to support the whole child, not just academic growth, but students’ social and emotional development,” she said. “It takes teamwork. When parents and schools have common goals and strategies to support the child, everyone benefits, especially the child.
Parents “in the know” about their child’s learning goals can also help reinforce them at home, she said, and students experience success and celebrations at home and at school.
Because attending these conferences is so beneficial, schools provide unique opportunities and incentives for families to participate.
COVID-19 has also created challenges, in terms of how to safely meet students and their families, but schools have been creative in how they provide those opportunities, Harper said.
Harper said CHES changed the platform to be a conversation with families, instead of a conference. The school has also implemented and had success with Cotton Candy & Conversations, a recent event that has been well received by families and students.
“We wanted to promote positive, two-way interaction between teachers, students and families,” she said. “Students had the opportunity to show their learning strengths. Families and students shared their goals for the year.
Typically, attendance at parent-teacher meetings declines as students progress through the school systems.
Tara Howard, dean of instruction at Owensboro High School, said a school’s goal is to have 100 percent attendance, but as students get older they tend to to have less parental involvement.
“As children progress through school systems, they want to assert their independence,” Howard said. “Information is not as fluid for parents. Students may say they don’t want their parents involved, but I’ve never really met a child who didn’t want their parents involved.
Some of that independence is good, she says, because high school educators try to instill that level or responsibility in students.
However, students still need a lot of support in middle school and high school.
That’s why parent-teacher conferences, meetings with educators, and briefings on a student’s school status are so valuable, “so that everyone who influences (students’) lives pulls in the same direction,” Howard said.
The goal is to create multiple layers of support, she said.
“The more people a child can have in their corner, cheering them on, asking the right questions, motivating them and challenging them, the more likely the child will keep their eyes on the prize,” she said.
The award looks different for each student, but they tend to have the same general goal: graduation and progression to post-secondary options that are beneficial and meaningful to their lives, Howard said.
One thing educators keep in mind is to make the conferences beneficial to parents and worth their time. At the secondary level, students can consult with guidance counselors to arrange their class schedules, and parents are offered presentations on how to complete the FAFSA form, for example.
“In a perfect world, I would like to see half of our parents involved in conferences and the lives of their students,” she said. “If we can get half to 75% of our parents to have positive communications about their student’s educational journey, I think we could move mountains. »