Overwhelming research proves that when parents and families are involved in youth’s education and out-of-school time program’s, children see higher achievement rates. However, getting families and parents involved in out-of-school time programs can often be one of the greatest challenges faced by those in the field. Many times, the children we see in our programs come to us because they are from families that need extra support. Site providers often feel as though they seek parental involvement, but come back short. Here we will explore common reasons that families don’t get involved and practical approaches for bridging the gap.
Examples of written and formal communications:
- Letters and postcards
- Calendars and Schedules
- Website or Blog announcements
- Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat)
- Phone calls and call outs
- School or PTA Newsletters
- Parent Handbooks
Before you talk, have you listened?
Before communicating with families, make sure that you have listened to them first by surveying their needs.
- Afterschool Alliance Issue Brief, March 2008: This issue brief from Afterschool Alliance discusses parent and afterschool staff challenges with parental involvement and suggests techniques, along with descriptions of programs with parental involvement successes. http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/issue_briefs/issue_parent_involvement_32.pdf
- After-School Programs Parent Involvement Plan: A publication from The Department of Agricultural and Extension Education and The Pennsylvania State University outlining recommendations to involve students in afterschool programs. http://www.nysan.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/ParentInvolvementPlan.pdf
- Bringing it All Together: Family and Community Engagement Policies in Action: An archived webinar developed in joint collaboration with The U.S. Department of Education and its partners United Way Worldwide, National PTA, SEDL, and Harvard Family Research Project. This webinar focuses on how family, school, and community engagement can bring value to education reform initiatives.They examine the different roles of federal, state, and local entities in promoting policy, highlighting innovative examples of systemic, integrated, and sustained practices and different opportunities for providers. http://www.nationalpirc.org/engagement_webinars/webinar-engagement-policies-in-action.html
- Engaging Families in Out-of-School Time Programs Toolkit: From the Build the Out-of-School Time Network, this toolkit was developed as a result of a four-year Family Engagement Initiative. It takes Out-of-School Time providers through assessment, planning, and communication as it pertains to Family Engagement in programs. https://bostnet.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Handout-B-Engaging-Families-Toolkit.pdf
- Increasing Family and Parental Engagement in Afterschool Programs: The Afterschool Corporation examines how sites can successfully engage parents in afterschool programs. This guide explains why engaging parents is important, provides tips and outreach materials on effective ways to involve parents and illustrates examples of programs that have successfully engaged parents. http://www.expandedschools.org/sites/default/files/increasing_parent_family_engagement_in_after_school.pdf
- Improving Student Achievement and Outcomes through Parent and Family Involvement: This publication was developed in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Education and Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Family Involvement, after surveying parents and school staff across Virginia. The booklet provides tips and strategies for parental involvement in schools. The information is easily applicable to afterschool and community settings. http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/virginia_tiered_system_supports/training/cohort/2012/apr/tips_and_strategies.pdf