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Increasing and Sustaining Parental Involvement

JaRonda Gumby, RTI Coordinator DCPEL Summer Institute August 10, 2010 The DC Partnership for Early Literacy

AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation

AGENDA •  Introductions •  Defining ‘family’ – art therapy activity •  Types of parental Involvement (PI) •  Barriers to PI •  ‘Four Corners’ reflection on personal experiences •  Increasing and sustaining PI •  Creating a family involvement action plan

OBJECTIVES •  Teachers will be able to define informal and formal methods of PI . •  Teachers will be reflective about their own family’s culture and sensitive to how their own experiences affect their interaction with families. •  Teachers will gain strategies for creating a positive atmosphere that promotes PI . •  Teachers will know how to maximize resources for incentivizing family participation. •  Teachers will create a Family Involvement Action Plan to guide their classroom in being intentional and systematic about PI this school year.

INTRODUCTION Introducing: •  Name and hometown •  School and grade level •  From the educator viewpoint- describe your experience working with families in one word Brainstorming: •  What is a family? What are some activities that are important to/priorities for families? When instructed, draw you and your family doing something. You have 90 seconds. Go!

ART THERAPY REFLECTION Share your picture and discuss reflection questions at your table: • Who did you draw first? • How difficult was it to decide whom to draw? • Would you have drawn something different one month ago, one year ago, five years ago? • What does the activity represent about your family’s culture, values, & traditions?

2010-2011 DCPEL FAMILY LITERACY PLAN •  Family-teacher interviews (school-specific) •  Back to School Night •  Bigger, better lending libraries with more thematic materials and more books available for families of ELLs •  Picture dictionaries •  Family literacy kits for all six units that include a themerelated storybook •  Family literacy events for three OWL units

TYPES OF PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT Involvement - activities that a child’s caregiver does

on a daily basis that impact the child’s life (homebased); ex: healthcare needs, signing up child for school, communicating with teacher, helping with homework Engagement - activities that a child’s caregiver does with the child and the other adults who work with the child (school-based); ex: conferences, workshops, contributing to a potluck Leadership - activities that a child’s caregiver participates in or leads with other persons or programs who work with the child; ex: organizing workshop or gathering, leadership position on PTA or school board

TYPES OF PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT Informal Activities •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  • 

Communication journals Using the lending library Volunteering during the school day Field trip chaperone Classroom aide – cutting, taping, or stapling materials Observing instruction Setting up or cleaning up events Verbal communication during drop-off and/or pick-up Notifying school of tardiness and/or absences Contributing to potlucks



•  Interviews and conferences •  Family literacy event •  Resource-based workshops •  Learning logs and/or homework •  Academic workshops •  Guest speaker in classroom •  Classroom/school committees or associations •  Parent Roundtables


DISCUSSION •  What types of involvement, engagement, and leadership activities are families currently offered? •  What activities have you found really successful in the past? •  Are there any activities that completely flopped? Why do you think that was the case? •  Was there ever a family activity you really wanted to implement but never did? What were barriers to implementation?

BARRIERS TO PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT •  The school’s failure to learn about and/or tailor information to their parent population •  School’s unwillingness to share power with the parents •  Minority parents tend to participate in school activities less due to devoting increased time to activities of higher priority (i.e. help meet their child’s basic needs) •  Consider communication styles, child-rearing practices, views on education/schooling, family strengths/needs, and diverse learning styles •  Grade level, school practices, belief systems, culture, feelings, resources, relationships, and trust affect PI Beliefs and actions listed above can create poor relationships between families and school personnel.

BARRIERS TO PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT •  PI trust involves a) the confidence that staff at the school will act in the best interest of their child, b) confidence that the teachers are qualified, c) confidence that staff will treat them fairly, and d)confidence that staff will keep their word.

BARRIERS TO PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT •  Parents who defer rather than trust hesitate to enter into disagreements with teachers, give teachers the benefit of the doubt, wait until something extreme happens to voice their opinions; failure to reciprocate trust can lead to decreased parental self-esteem •  Parents who trust too much do not question authority figures, do not openly express disagreements with staff, do not ask questions, and often feel powerless due to a perceived status inequality •  Parents who distrust feel the teacher is not teaching their child, feel the teacher does not take any responsibility for problems, feel teachers are not meeting their students’ needs, and feel the teacher is uncooperative.

‘FOUR CORNERS’ REFLECTIONS Listen to the following statements relating to your childhood experiences and your own parents’ level of involvement in your education. Afterward, walk to a corner that reflects your answer to the statement: strongly agree, slightly agree, slightly disagree, or strongly disagree. Please save all discussion until after the entire activity is completed. If at anytime you feel uncomfortable responding to the statements, you may opt out of the activity but please try your best to participate fully 


Relationship Building

•  Greet family members by name •  Invest time into getting to know your families – their community, their culture, and their interests •  For ELL/LEP families, commit to learning 10 key words in their home language. Incorporate their culture and language into the classroom. •  Be honest with families. •  Over-communicate; know your audience. •  Praise families frequently.

INCREASING PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT •  Provide numerous and varied opportunities for parental involvement that are on-going and relevant to the families •  Make activities of significant merit and “worth” the parent’s time/ensure activities are well-planned and well-executed •  Provide structured parent-child time •  Set attainable, realistic goals and communicate clear, concise expectations to parents •  Promote a sense of parent ownership •  Create a positive, accessible atmosphere that shows parents are valued and appreciated

SUSTAINING PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT •  Incentivize family participation (personal notes, grab bag, shoutout, first-choice sign-up, gift cards). •  Write down what families are participating in school/class events so that under-engaged parents can be targeted (Families need Tier Two too ).


•  Homework and other activities to be done in the home present a great opportunity to build a home-school connection. Keeping the barriers to PI in mind and strategies to increase PI, work with a partner to create a list of activities or strategies for families to use with one of the books at your table. How will you communicate these activities, strategies for implementation, and their importance? How will you know the activity has been done?


•  Give LEP parents a specific role to help build confidence. •  Use interpreters and translators for extensive communication with parents who are ELLs. •  Provide group socialization opportunities. •  Use strategies to target fathers (lowcommitment, experiential rather than academic, phrasing during written and oral communication). •  Create a plan that keeps your team accountable for engaging families. •  Get creative and use community resources.

SCENARIOS Read Scenario One. Discuss at your table the following questions: •  What are some possible reasons this family is under-engaged? •  What are steps teachers could take to increase and sustain this family’s involvement in their child’s schooling? Synthesize ideas as a group. Repeat for Scenario Two. Let’s re-visit the barriers and be proactive!

FAMILY INVOLVEMENT ACTION PLAN •  Detail how teachers will build rapport with families. •  Include school and classroom events. •  Ensure informal and formal opportunities are provided each month. •  Adjust plan to incorporate class culture and family strengths/interests.

FAMILY INVOLVEMENT ACTION PLAN •  Detail when families will be invited into the classroom and how the culture of the families will be represented in the class environment. •  Brainstorm incentives for family involvement. •  Create a system for tracking family involvement. •  Assign responsibilities where appropriate. Using the materials provided, work with your team to begin creating your class Family Involvement Action Plan.

RESOURCES •  Classroom families •  Teaching team •  Other colleagues •  Principal •  LAFL Manager •  Social Worker •  Community organizations (if engage in a donation capacity, discuss potential donors with appropriate school personnel to limit overload of funding requests) •  Internet

WRAP UP •  Discussed formal and informal activities for parental involvement, engagement and leadership •  Brainstormed barriers to parental involvement (culture, language, education level, distrust) •  Created a family involvement action plan that incorporated proactive methods to counteract these barriers to increase and sustain parental involvement (relationship building, over-communicate, incentivize)

REFERENCES •  Blakes-Greenway, D. (1994). “Increasing Parental Involvement in the Preschool Program by Offering Alternative Communication Strategies between Parents and School Staff. Nova Southern University. •  Bradley, S., Mindrup, C., and Wells, L. (1999). “Increasing Parental Involvement through the Use of Motivational Activities.” Saint Xavier University. •  Fan, X. and Chen, M. (1999). “Parental Involvement and Students’ Academic Achievement: A Meta-Analysis.” National Center for Education Statistics: Washington, DC. •  Mido, C., Boyoung, P., Singh, K., and Youngji, Y.S. (2009). Parental involvement, parenting behaviors, and children’s cognitive development. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 23 (3). •  Young, Michelle D. (1998). “Importance of Trust in Increasing Parental Involvement and Student Achievement in Mexican American Communities.” San Diego, CA.

REFERENCES •  Petroff, S. and Meissner, D., Eds. (2005). İColorín Colorado! AFT Toolkit for Teachers: Reaching out to Hispanic Parents of English Language Learners. American Federation of Teachers. Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association, Inc. •  Department for Education and Skills. (2004). Engaging fathers: involving parents, raising achievement. DfES Publications. United Kingdom: Crown. •  Kakli, Z., Kreider, H., Little, P., Buck. T., and Coffey, M. (2006). Focus on Families! How to Build and Support Family-Centered Practices in After School. Boston: Harvard Family Research Project and Build the Out-of-School Time Network.


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