Students at Mililani Middle School (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The research in this report, published by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, seems to point toward a definitive yes.
Researchers from psychologists to education specialists have all shown support for this idea. It certainly makes sense: middle school is a time of change, when students are transitioning from one extreme to another. Increased parental involvement could do wonders for kids by helping them adjust and prepare their study strategies, work expectations, and schedules for the extra work of high school.
Then again, it’s important to keep in mind that middle school and elementary school are no picnic, either. Can we really say that one age level is more important than another? Perhaps the best solution would be to agree that parental engagement is always important, no matter students’ age level.
We’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you agree that middle school is the most important time for parental engagement?
We recently surveyed over 5,000 parents and small school administrators around the country, and became well acquainted with the way today’s schools communicate with parents. Here are our TOP TEN findings:
Over 70% of Montessori schools primarily use standalone newsletters and websites to communicate with parents.
- It takes an average of 5 hours for a school to create, edit, compile, and send out a newsletter (using an existing template, with input by several school staff members).
- The average school newsletter consists of over 750 words, or approximately two and a half pages of text.
- Parents spend less than two minutes of their time reading newsletters, which translates to a maximum of 360 words. This means that over 50% of school newsletter content goes unread.
- 85% of school newsletters sent to parents remain unopened.
- Parents receive more than 70 emails daily, including newsletters, credit card statements, and payment reminders. Personal emails make up less than 20%of their inboxes.
- The human brain cannot process and retain more than seven (plus or minus two) pieces of information in short term memory (Think social security, phone number, driver’s license, license plates, etc.)
- School websites are primarily marketing tools that allow new (prospective) parents to find out more about schools.
- Once a child is enrolled in a school, parents visit school websites to retrieve information; they prefer to receive information.
- Annually, Montesori schools spend over $ 6,000.00 – $ 8000.00 on newsletters and websites, in an attempt to market to and engage with parents.
For all small schools, whether charter, montessori, or private, administrators might want to question whether their current method of communication is truly the best.
Jack-o’-lantern (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It’s October, and you know what that means: pumpkins on every porch; that brisk feeling of fall in the air; and, for many, Parent Teacher Conferences. This article, on edweek.com, offers some very important suggestions and advice for conducting effective parent-teacher conferences at schools. I recommend for both parents and teacher to take a look and see if there’s anything they can change in the way they take part in or conduct these conferences.
Does the article provide good advice to follow? Is there anything you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments!
Why iPad (and tablets in general) will succeed (Photo credit: ticoneva)
With all the emphasis on integrating technology into schools, it can be difficult to figure out how to do so in a meaningful, cost-effective way. Luckily, here are three ways that schools can take advantage of all the new technologies around them:
1. Engage Kids: In numerous blogs and videos, the increasing use of technology to promote hands-on learning in the classroom has produced amazing results. New websites, classroom equipment, and more, allow students to learn real-world skills while still being guided by their teachers. Whether starting Facebook pages for the class pets or publishing creative writing assignments on a class blog, the opportunities that technology presents are endless. It’s something that more and more schools are beginning to institute- a new way of engaging kids, with great results for all.
2. Engage Parents: Just as engaging kids in the classroom is often one of the more difficult of a teacher’s job, finding ways to communicate and engage with parents is often the one area that schools find hardest to improve. Though several studies have proven that parental engagement in schools is one of the most invaluable influences on child success, it can be nearly impossible to stay connected with parents who are busy and constantly on the go. Various services like text messaging and mobile apps allow schools to stay in contact with parents not only through their computers, but through their cellphones- the device people are shown to be using more and more often in daily life.
3. Streamline Organization: With so many other options available, it’s surprising that so many schools continue to use paper to keep track of important files and communications. Though it can be easy to use and access, paper communications and files can also be messy, time consuming, and difficult to organize. New software and apps allow teachers and school administrators to get organized in new ways, so that schools can become more efficient. Online and cellphone-accessible calendars and messaging systems can help schools coordinate fundraisers, arrange parent-teacher conferences, and much more.
Of course, this is only a short list of ways that schools can use technology-what others do you think should be included? What’s been your experience with technology in schools?
Schoolbus Heaven (Photo credit: Kevin Labianco)
Here’s a great article that covers some of the highlights from the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher that came out earlier in the year.
Here’s my take:
- The article says that parental engagement has been steadily increasing since 1988. Though this is good news, it would be nice if we were given more specific statistics about the change in parental engagement in schools. How much of a role have the changing roles of technology played in this transition?
- It would be nice to see more data about which kinds of parental engagement have been increasing. The article mentions “parents visiting schools” and students talking with parents about schools, but what about PTA meetings, Parent-teacher conferences, and fundraiser volunteering?
- It’s important to remember that parental engagement in schools helps both students and teachers achieve success. One point the article made: teachers are more likely to enjoy their place of work if the parents there make sure to stay engaged in school events.
Do you think parents are more engaged now than they were 20 years ago? How can we improve engagement in schools? Let us know in the comments!
KIDS DRAW THE DARNDEST THINGS (Photo credit: marc falardeau)
PTA’s, or parent-teacher associations, have been around since the late 1800’s, and members are just as passionate now as they were so many years ago. They’re often one of the most available resources for parents who want to get more involved in their school. This article by Anne Stafford provides a great commentary on Parental Engagement from a parent’s perspective; it also shows the ways in which PTA’s can help teachers and parents cooperate and communicate.
Here’s our summary of why PTA’s and schools are great when they work together:
- When like-minded parents meet together for the sole purpose of improving and helping their school, good things can happen. Parents can more easily communicate with schools, and vice versa.
- Parent volunteers are often the backbones of school-run fundraisers. It only makes sense that they should be able to have a voice in the ways in which school fundraisers are set up and run.
- Parents and teachers can accomplish great things when they work together. They can help improve curricula, raise money, develop school-wide programs to help the underprivileged- the list goes on and on!
- PTA’s provide an effective platform through which parents and schools can work together to endure the best possible education and school environment for students.
Have anything to add about Parental Engagement in PTAs? Tell us in the comments!
Dice five (Photo credit: @Doug88888)
We often talk about Parental Engagement on this blog: about how to increase it, why it’s important, and what it means for our children. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the discussions and the terms without really paying attention to what they mean.
It’s important for teachers and administrators to remember that Parental Engagement isn’t just an idea or a phrase, but a process that involves two people, both of whom want the best for their children or students. A lot of the time, parents and teachers can find themselves at odds with each other due to a lack of communication, different goals and ideas, and much more. Though it can be difficult, the results we see when both parties are passionate and understanding of each other really does serve as a reminder that “Parental Engagement” is so much more than a phrase: it is a partnership.