By Belinda Moreira
Director of Advocacy, Good Reason Houston
Parents and families are considered the “first teachers” of their children. From first words to first steps, the family is at the root of it all. Once students start in the classroom, they may be spending a lot of time at school, but their primary learning environment is still at home. For this reason, parents should be an important part of their school’s ecosystem for students to thrive.
As Director of Advocacy for Good Reason Houston, I’ve seen many success stories that are due to fruitful parent engagement strategies. In this blog, I am offering seven reasons why educators should include parent voices in their planning and in their decisions.
1. Parents want to be part of the decision-making process.
Parents care deeply about their children. However, parents need flexibility, child care, interpretation services, and more to be an effective decision-making partner. Removing barriers to engagement is key to a successful relationship with parents.
2. Parents care about their student’s ability to succeed in reaching their goals.
Parents drop off their children at school so that their children have bright futures. It is essential for parents to have access to data, knowledge of changes that are happening at their child’s school, and other opportunities to better understand how their child’s school is performing.
3. Parents understand their child and their needs from a different perspective than the school.
Parents are a child’s first teacher, so it makes sense that a parent’s perspective is invaluable to both teachers and the school. Parents can share so much information about nuances in a child’s life and the community that surrounds them.
4. Communicating to parents is the key to successful partnerships.
Communication is everything for parents. When parents are receiving consistent, clear, and transparent communication about what is happening with their child and school, they become thought partners in a foundational way that benefits schools and students.
5. Parents and families are the only way a school and school district can understand the culture, beliefs, and values of a community.
Parents and families all come from different backgrounds and lived experiences. In order to make the most informed decisions about what to prioritize and what the highest needs are at a school, parents must be involved starting day one.
6. Parent engagement leads to higher rates of success for students.
Many studies show that having parents engaged throughout a child’s academic career increases the likelihood for students to be successful, build good academic habits, and for a seamless transition from school to home.
7. Parents can bring unique questions or perspectives that can improve the sustainability and success of programming at a school.
When testing the likely success of a strategic plan, school model, or other programmatic need, parents can ask questions that folks in the education space may have not considered. The more diverse voices are in the room, the higher the opportunities for success.
Schools and parents can work together to foster an environment that primes students for learning. When students enter a school that is welcoming, affirming, and meets their needs, they are more likely to succeed academically. At Good Reason Houston, part of our work toward increasing the number of high-quality schools in our area includes helping to bridge the gaps between families and school leaders. Parents who are interested in learning more about this can reach out to me at email@example.com.