• Some ways for parents to be involved in classroom

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    Parent involvement continues to challenge practitioners engaged in school reform despite being a required component of many school improvement initiatives-from Title I Schoolwide Programs to federally mandated school improvement plans. The benefits of parent involvement are clear: A growing body of research shows that successful parent involvement improves not only student behavior and attendance but also positively affects student achievement. Yet many schools continue to struggle with defining and measuring meaningful parental involvement, and many don't feel that their efforts are successful. parent as partner plays a significant role in everyone's life.
    1. Have a “helper bag” in your room prepared with directions and materials for the activities parents will be pulling students for. Once they know the routine, they can walk in, grab the bag, and get to work without interrupting a lesson!
    2. Send materials home to be cut out or put together. Due to schedules, some parents can’t make it in during normal school hours but still want to contribute and be part of their child’s class. Make sure they have all the materials needed and a clear deadline with plenty of time to get it done.
    3. Take a survey of parents’ cultural identity, job experience, holidays celebrated, etc. and ask them to come in and speak to the class. A craft could come with it if they are really creative!
    4. Ask parents to be a secret reader where they can read their favorite childhood book to the class. You could even have them write down a few clues so the students have to guess who will be coming in to read (the child of the parent will really get a kick out of this)!
    5. Join in on a class art project. Let your parents come up with an idea or prepare an art project! Or have them come in and assist in the class project if they prefer.
    6. Help host a class party. Parents could donate materials or snacks, work a station you’ve prepared, or come with their own craft or activity.
    7. Support a Classroom Giving Tree. Decorate a board outside of the classroom of a bare tree. When you need a supply, write it on a paper leaf and staple it to the tree. Parents can take the leaf and purchase the item for the classrooms if they are able to.
    8. Observe the classroom. Let them sign up and spend some time in the room observing. This can give them a better understanding of your routine and expectations, as well as have a better idea of what their child is coming home and talking about.
    9. Contribute time as a recess helper. Help organize group games, teach a new game, or just monitor the fun!
    10. Attend field trips. Whether it’s to a park around the corner or a bus ride away, extra adults are always helpful and needed on these special trips outside of the classroom!

    What are the barriers to successful parent involvement?

    Schools often don't engage parents because they don't think they can. "A lot of it is perception. Teachers perceive that families don't want to be involved when, in fact, families don't know how to be involved," says Karen Salinas, communications director for the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships at Johns Hopkins University.
    For their part, parents are sometimes hesitant to become involved in school because they don't have extra time or because they don't speak fluent English. But "the biggest problem is the disconnect between the school and the families," says Salinas. "Parents believe that they are not welcome. It comes in part from their own education history. They often have had a less-than-satisfactory experience with their own schooling, and so they don't feel like [being involved] is guaranteed to be a good experience."
    Despite these communication barriers, both schools and parents want the relationship to improve, if only for the benefit of students. A 2003 analysis of more than 25 public opinion surveys by Public Agenda, a nonpartisan public opinion research organization, found that 65 percent of teachers say their students would do better in school if their parents were more involved, and 72 percent of parents feel that children whose parents are not involved sometimes "fall through the cracks" in school

    What is successful parent involvement?

    Successful parent involvement can be defined as the active, ongoing participation of a parent or primary caregiver in the education of his or her child. Parents can demonstrate involvement at home-by reading with their children, helping with homework, and discussing school events-or at school, by attending functions or volunteering in classrooms. Schools with involved parents engage those parents, communicate with them regularly, and incorporate them into the learning process.
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