Family / Community Engagement
Family and Community engagement in the education, health, safety, and general well-being of our children and youth is at the heart of PTA. When families, schools, and communities work effectively together, engagement becomes a powerful tool that boosts student achievement and better prepares our children to lead healthy, happy, and productive lives. PTA leaders play an important role in building closer relationships between home and school by creating opportunities for authentic family engagement in supporting success. In addition, by working closely with other school and community leaders, PTA’s can develop a culture of inclusion that makes family-school -community partnerships a top priority.
The first step to building or increasing family engagement in your child’s school, preschool, virtual or homeschool group is understanding why parents become active participants in student learning. Research shows that parents and caregivers are motivated to get involved in school activities when they:
- Understand their role by knowing what is expected at school to support student learning
- Believe they make a difference by having the knowledge and skills to support student success
- Feel welcome at school by receiving strong signals from their children and teachers that they should be involved
As a PTA leader, you can boost parent engagement by linking your PTA activities to student learning and outcomes. Provide information, resources, and workshops for parents to learn what parent involvement and engagement looks like and how best to support student learning at home and in school. In addition to traditional academics, including life-skills, health/safety, and topics of general well-being provide a well-rounded experience.
PTA is dedicated to empowering families and caregivers as advocates; working with community members to start the conversation and provide the tools and relevant resources needed for engaging with the youth of today. (for growing, for developing for? today’s children and youth?).
Florida PTA Family Community Engagement Chair
PTA’s National Standards for Family-School Partnerships
Parent involvement in education has been a priority of Florida PTA and National PTA for more than 100 years. In 1997, National PTA worked with Dr. Joyce L. Epstein of Johns Hopkins University to develop National Standards for Parent/Family Involvement Programs based upon extensive research. The six standards were endorsed by nearly 100 education, health, and parent involvement organizations, and were included in No Child Left Behind as the federal definition of parent involvement.
The benefits of family-school-community partnerships are many: higher teacher morale, more parent involvement, and greater student success are only a few. That is why in 2007 National PTA developed the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships Implementation Guide, a tool for empowering people to work together with an end goal of building family-school partnerships and student success which is still very relevant today. Visit www.PTA.org f or more information.
Florida Department of Education
The Florida Department of Education website has many valuable resources for parents, students, and educators. Including a few simple ways to help parents and families to stay involved in education.
- Establish a daily family routine.
- Monitor out-of-school activities.
- Model the value of learning, self-discipline, and hard work.
- Express high but realistic expectations for achievement.
- Encourage children’s development/ progress in school.
- Encourage reading, writing, and discussions among family members.
Visit their Family and Community (http://www.fldoe.org/schools/family-community) page for information on Activities & Programs, Family Involvement Links, Hotlines and Toll-Free Numbers and more.
Celebrate your school’s diversity with a mural. Provide the paints and banner paper and invite all families to illustrate some aspect of their heritage. Hang the mural at a school entrance for everyone to see.
Monday Morning Coffee Drive-Thru
Give parents and guardians a warm greeting along with a doughnut, coffee, and information on the week’s activities as they drop their children off for school.
International Food Night
Introduce families to foods from around the world with a buffet dinner. Label each dish; include the country of origin. Also provide educational information on the countries represented.
Saturday Success Academy
Offer parents workshops on such topics as parenting skills, graduation expectations, financing college, test-taking skills, and computer skills while students participate in review sessions for course exams and standardized tests.
Provide board games for families to play in teams or as individuals. Organize tournaments to help families get to know new people.
Career and Job Fair
Introduce students to a variety of career and job opportunities. Ask a select group of parents to talk in detail about what they do. Foster small group discussions and show-and-tell by providing each parent with a display area.
Family-Student-Faculty Sports Event
Organize games of softball, kickball, volleyball, or basketball. Have parents, students, and teachers compete against each other, or mix up the teams.
Invite parents to a PTA meeting or informal chat to hear the school principal talk about the school curriculum and the vision for the school. Also have the principal discuss opportunities for families to be involved in the school.
Community, Kids, and Parents
Each day of the week, have a different community business work on a project with a specific grade for about an hour. A local garden center could pot spider plants with 2nd-graders. A cooking school could help 5th-graders make quick and healthy snacks. Invite parents to join in the fun.
Student Talent Showcase
Let kids show off for their parents. Host an open mic poetry night, an exhibition of science and math projects, or a variety show filled with skits, magic, music, and dance.
Encourage parents and guardians to volunteer in their children’s classrooms. They can help teachers with special activities or everyday needs. Distribute information on additional volunteer opportunities for the year.
Ask local authors, librarians, teachers, or parents to host family book discussions or simply read a favorite story or book to students. Use this opportunity to establish a reading or book club corner in your school library.
Plan a dinner for families, teachers, school administrators, and community leaders. Invite just one grade or the entire school. Ask each family to bring a dish to share. End the evening with some educational games.
Launch a dads club to promote the involvement of fathers and other male role models. Have club members select a special school-based project to work on and commit to participating in father-child and family events.
A Penny Saved
Show kids and parents how to save for a college education. Offer a workshop that provides useful tips and strategies to help make college possible.
PTA Membership Drive
Ask the entire community to join PTA! Post membership fliers around the school, advertise in local newspapers, and have a membership table at the week’s basketball games and other school events.
Set up craft stations where kids and families can decorate crowns and capes, learn how to quilt or crochet, make pipe cleaner animals, scrapbook, paint ceramics, design jewelry, and more. Ask local craft stores to donate supplies and volunteers.
Black History Month Assembly
Celebrate black history with a school-wide assembly featuring presentations by community members and students. Welcome parent participation.
Invite parents to visit the library, computer lab, auditorium, track, music room, and more to see where students spend their time at school.
Family-Student-Faculty Sports Event
Organize games of softball, kickball, volleyball, or basketball. Have parents, students, and teachers compete against each other, or mix the teams up.
Family Fun Festival
Set up booths with food, face painting, and arm wrestling—as well as information about school programs, community resources, and PTA membership. Organize carnival games, skits, and indoor relay races. And don’t forget to offer door prizes!
Meet Your Computer, Meet Your Student
Teach parents about cyberbullying and how to monitor their children’s online activities. Give them hands-on experience in the school computer lab exploring online social forums.
FOR QUESTIONS AND ASSISTANCE CONTACT:
Tammy Weaver, Florida PTA Family Community Engagement Chair