Parental involvement has been shown to positively affect student achievement, reduce delinquent behavior, and create a positive sense of self (Epstein & Sheldon, 2002; Hoover-Dempsey & Sandier, 1995; Van Voorhis, 2003). Since we know that student achievement and positive school adjustment, comes from the support of parents, we wanted to hear directly from the parents of Marion County their thoughts and feelings on engaging with their childrens’ schools.
|Two lucky attendees won laptops donated by IU Health.
On March 10th, MCCOY’s Student Success Team, Indiana Partnerships Center, and Indiana Youth Institute hosted “An Evening Dedicated to Parent Voices.” 80 parents and educators attended the event and participated in a round table discussion. The expert panel, composed of 2 parents and 2 educators, each posed a question on parent engagement to the audience. The parents were able to discuss each question in small groups with a facilitator recording their feedback. With these detailed notes, we summarized the key factors that influence the level of parental involvement with schools.
Transportation- Parents do not always have access to affordable transportation, thus keeping them from attending school functions. Schools can overcome this obstacle by offering transportation or conducting home visits.
Work Hours – Working parents are often unable to attend school functions and conferences during school hours. Schools can help by offering conference times outside the traditional work day, such as evenings, weekends or scheduling a home visit when the parent can be present.
Parent Attitudes- Often parents have poor attitudes about school or their own abilities to contribute to their child’s education. Parents may not know what is expected of them. Schools can overcome this by letting parents know what is expected them.
Teacher/Principals Attitudes- Teachers and principals do not always encourage or have the time to engage with parents. Teachers need to be more available to parents. Schools can overcome this by having mandatory teacher parent conferences. Also, principals need to be a visible leader in the school. This can be done by principals attending all school events and being available to meet with parents.
Climate-The school can be an unwelcoming place for some parents. Schools must work to maintain professionalism while projecting a warm, inviting school climate. Schools can do this by having an open door policy and hosting fun family events.
Language and Culture-The 2009 census showed that the Hispanic population in Indiana has more than doubled. The population increased from 33,000 to more than 84,000 people. 10% of the Hispanic population resides in Marion County. Since the majority of school personnel do not speak a foreign language, Hispanic parents who do not speak English may feel uncomfortable engaging in school. Language barriers can be overcome with schools providing translators and ESL trainings. Cultural barriers can be overcome by schools educating school personnel on culture, race, and socioeconomic status of the parents they serve.
Community organizations- Parents feel schools do not utilize community organizations as a way to communicate and provide resources. Schools can overcome this by utilizing all resources and organizations the community has to offer.
Communication- Most schools communicate information via the internet. However, not all parents have access to the internet. Schools need to find creative ways to get information to parents. One way of doing this is by bringing the information to the parents: such as community centers, holding parent lead meetings, and open forums for parents. Parents want regular communication from the school on attendance and homework. Lastly, parents want to be informed from the beginning of the year what the requirements are for their children to attend college, and what the post secondary options are.