How Do You Make Your School Family Friendly?

Educators believe that families do not want to participate in school.  What follows has been excerpted from my Best Practices book.

1. Open Lines of Communication
Meet with representatives of the community including church leaders, and
community-based organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary,
Lions, etc. Have them announce school events like parent meetings,
sporting events, student performances. Give them tickets to sporting
events and student performances.

2. Have Student translators available for parents who prefer
speaking in a language other than English.
3. Have staff make positive phone calls to parents
Most phone calls made to homes tend to be negative. Parents who get
positive phone calls appreciate it. Call parents and complement them for
having their child come on time, well prepared, or that their child did well
on an examination or at a sporting or school event.

4. Have school cleaned before parent meetings.
Parents notice.

5. Have student work hanging in classrooms.
Parents and students need a replicable model of what “quality work” looks
like. Create a template by having student work hanging in classrooms and

6. “We Don’t Want To Brag” bulletin board.
Put positive news on a bulletin board that parents can notice when they
enter the school. The work can include positive news about faculty like
their participation in out-of school events or their achieving degrees.
Newspaper articles about the success of students in contests, sports, or
achievements should be included. Include information or letters from
graduates who are in college, the workforce or the military.

7. Hang graphs of student achievements.
Graphs showing improvements in testing, attendance can be placed in
visible locations in the building. The graph lines should be going up not
down. Graphs should emphasize the positive, not the negative. (For
example, you want to show the number of students who graduate, not
those who dropout.)

8. Celebrate Student Success
Find occasions to celebrate the success of students whether in academics
or sports or student activities. Make sure to invite parents. Take “instant”
pictures of parents celebrating with their children. The success should not
create “winners” and “losers”. Insure that every student can be a winner.

9. Hold a Contest Thru Your Parent Organization.
Prizes can be for the parent who brings the most parents to a parent
meeting or the one who attends the most frequently, or simply to a parent
who shows up. Prizes can include free meals at a fast-food restaurant.
(They are generally willing to give away meals.) “No cost” prizes can also
include tickets to school sporting events or school performances.

10.Organize a Family/Faculty event.
Have parents and faculty sit down to “break bread” together. Have
everyone bring something to eat (even if it store bought cookies.) The
meeting might be held off-site at a community center or church. This
provides an opportunity for people to engage in conversation, which need
not be about what takes place in school.

11. “Everyone, bring one.”
Encourage parents who attend a meeting bring one of the parents of one
of their child’s friends.

Excerpted from Best Practices to Help Students Stay in School by Franklin P.
Schargel, published by Eye on Education in 2005. Copyright © 2004
Franklin P. Schargel. All Rights Reserved.