Three ideas for boosting family engagement from Carmen Fariña

Last week, I had the pleasure of listening to New York City Chancellor Carmen Fariña speak about the importance of family engagement. Every time I hear Chancellor Fariña speak I leave energized by her new ideas and out of the box thinking. This time was no different.

We all know parent involvement is critical to a child’s success in school. As research shows, family engagement improves student attitudes toward school, predicts student success, and reduces the dropout rate. Chancellor Fariña offered these ideas on how schools can engage families in a more meaningful way:

  • Schools can create parent workshops. To help parents support learning at home, offering a parent book club or workshop that covers curriculum can be a powerful tool. Through these workshops schools can engage parents in the same text and/or lessons their children are currently learning. Exposing parents to their children's curriculum allows them to better understand expectations. And let's not forget, as Chancellor Fariña pointed out, “Parents like to learn too!”
  • Educators should set up time to make complimentary phone calls. Generally, when parents receive a phone call from the school it’s perceived as being “bad” news. Making a phone call that celebrates a child’s success will be unexpected and appreciated. A complimentary phone call home may also make parents feel more at ease the next time the phone rings or when back to school night rolls around.
  • Schools should provide mentors for students who are pursuing higher education. In some cases today’s students are the first in their families to attend college. From taking the SAT’s, to completing the college application process, having a mentor who has gone through this process is a priceless resource.