Connecting with students’ families is one of the many rewarding aspects of working in schools and districts. Sharing a community gives you the opportunity to better understand students’ lives and how to make what they learn more meaningful.
As important as that is, family engagement is about more than getting to know your students—it’s also a critical part of student success. Students benefit, academically and socio-emotionally, when their parents, caregivers, and other family members connect with schools in a meaningful way,
But engaging families isn’t always easy. Parents and caregivers have busy schedules, so any strategy to increase participation needs to be thoughtfully designed with these needs in mind.
For schools and districts, one foundational investment is a communications systems that makes it easier for families to connect with teachers, coaches, social workers, and other school staff. When this is in place, the possible avenues for family engagement grow exponentially.
Family engagement occurs when parents and caregivers collaborate with educators to maximize students’ learning, personal development, and health. This requires a two-way relationship between school and home, which empowers families to play an active part in supporting their children’s academic and social growth at school.
Students thrive when their parents and caregivers have access to the right tools to play an active role in their learning. Research shows a variety of positive outcomes associated with engaged families.
Children with engaged families have a greater chance of academic success. For instance, family engagement has been linked to improved grades and test scores. When families are able to provide academic support at home, students are more likely to develop strong study habits, complete their assignments, and stay motivated.
Family engagement also contributes to positive student behaviors like improved class attendance and a decrease in disciplinary problems. Engagement from caregivers and parents can reinforce positive behaviors and help students feel a greater sense of accountability. Students with involved families are also less likely to engage in negative health behaviors like unprotected sex and substance abuse.
A crucial part of family engagement is facilitating effective home-school communication. Families can’t become or stay engaged if they don’t know how, so schools and districts need to make sure they have the information and resources they need to be involved. As importantly, communication is central to helping families feel welcome and valued as members of the community.
To support family engagement, communication between school and home needs to be clear, timely, and easy to access—for both senders and recipients alike. Reaching families means navigating all the communication barriers that may be affecting their ability to engage, from language barriers to technology access to busy schedules. While mass communications like emails, robocalls, and social media may be convenient to send, they aren’t as likely to be opened and read as text messages or smartphone app notifications.
For better family engagement, communication channels also need to be available to all the different stakeholders involved in student learning—not just administrators. While it’s important for families to hear regularly from the school or district office, teachers, support staff, and even the transportation department all play an important role in day-to-day engagement.
Setting up a system for school-home communication is a prerequisite for family engagement. An integrated communication platform like Remind Hub can help equip administrators, teachers, and staff members alike with the tools they need to communicate effectively and stay connected with parents and caregivers.
Superintendents, principals, and other administrators often set the tone for home-school collaboration. Once a communications system is in place, school and district leaders can use these channels to implement a number of strategies to increase family engagement.
Many parents and caregivers know what best serves their children’s academic and social needs. By involving families in some decisions and soliciting their input on policies and initiatives, schools and districts can help families feel more ownership in the educational process.
Remind tip: Having a hard time getting responses? Send questions or surveys home via mobile-first messaging so families can respond right from their phones. Remind lets you send surveys that are pre-filled with respondent data, so they’re even faster and easier for families to complete.
Learning doesn’t end when students leave the classroom for the day. Along with helping with homework, parents and caregivers can also support student learning by discussing topics and concepts from class. However, not every family has the content-area knowledge to offer specific support on assignments or to have conversations that expand on what students are learning at school.
To help families reinforce classroom learning, schools can send home resources like links to websites that explain a concept, or conversation starters that encourage dinner-table discussion about classroom topics.
Remind tip: Equip teachers with the tools they need to keep families in the loop about what’s happening in class. On Remind, app integrations with Google Classroom, Smore, and more let them access and share resources from a single place.
Parents and family members can stay connected to school by attending school-sponsored workshops and seminars. Schools can offer adult English language courses or hold workshops explaining their math curriculum. Topics like college readiness, preventing bullying, and supporting students with special needs can draw parents and caregivers into the school, allow them to better support their children, and build trust.
For any activity, it’s important to communicate with families about how they can benefit from these resources, share detailed logistical information, and include opportunities for feedback about topics, timing, and usefulness.
Remind tip: To help parents and caregivers stay on top of upcoming events, schedule a series of reminders leading up to key deadlines and dates.
Parents and caregivers who have the time and interest make great classroom and school volunteers. They can get involved in the library, fundraising events, field trips, and after-school activities.
Share this information early in the school year—as well as any requirements for volunteers, such as background checks—and during the year as new opportunities come up.
Remind tip: To help coordinate volunteers and keep communication streamlined, your school or district can set up separate groups for potential volunteers or specific events.
Although active involvement in their children’s education can be its own reward, families appreciate it when schools acknowledge their engagement efforts. In addition to certificates of appreciation, thank-you notes, and awards, administrators can publicize family recognition with announcements to the community.
Remind tip: School- and district-wide messaging on Remind makes it easy to send quick, brief announcements to an entire community. Send image attachments and other files or a personalized voice message to celebrate wins.
With Remind Hub, school leaders can provide communication tools like texting and app notifications to keep members of their educational communities on the same page. Superintendents, principals, technology administrators, and other district leaders have seen how mobile-first communications can harness the power of family engagement and make education a collaborative enterprise.
Learn how communication with Remind can help facilitate family engagement, increase student potential, and create a more supportive learning environment.