Mother and daughter doing homework learning to calculate

Decades of research have shown the critical role families play as supporters of learning, models of lifelong learning, and advocates for their child’s right programming and placements.  Positive impacts have been found on multiple indicators of student achievement, including grades, achievement test scores, lower dropout rates, and an increased sense of self-confidence and views on the importance of education.

Unfortunately, the level of parent engagement in schools located in underserved communities is often low.  Many parents work at jobs with little flexibility, have tight family budgets, and possess limited English proficiency and digital literacy skills.  Also, teachers and administrators need time to discuss and reflect on developing a classroom and school environment that welcomes and engages parents in their children’s education.

The Parent Engagement and Education Core Component seeks to overcome challenges that impede successful parent engagement.  It centers on the provision of Parent Workshops designed to support a partnership where families and school staff see each other as equals in reaching shared goals.  The workshops help build trusting relationships among families, teachers, and other school staff and equip parents with the digital skills they need to support their child’s learning.

The Parent Workshops were initially designed to be provided on the school campus.   However, this isn’t always possible, so virtual sessions are also available. Whether in person or online, it is vital that schools weave the School2Home content into an ongoing program of meaningful family engagement.

A vital feature of the Parent Workshops is that they are facilitated by teachers and other staff from the school, which helps establish an immediate connection between parents and teachers.  Teachers help parents understand and use the tools and technologies that their children will be using and the importance of digital literacy skills and deeper learning.  Meaningful and authentic parent engagement is resource-intensive, but these investments produce strong returns for all involved.

Implementation Process

The entire School Leadership Team and the whole school should be involved in implementing the parent activities to demonstrate the schoolwide commitment to establishing an environment where parents feel like partners. However, the “Parent Engagement and Education Lead” coordinates the entire effort. The following are the recommended implementation steps:

Identify Teachers and Staff to Serve as Workshop Facilitators

Identify Teachers and Staff to Serve as Workshop Facilitators. Generally, the principal identifies teachers and other school staff to serve in this capacity or establishes a method whereby teachers can apply. Teachers selected to serve as parent trainers should have a demonstrated ability for working with technology and with parents. It is helpful if they are bilingual to accommodate the languages spoken by parents. Other factors to consider include:

  • Stipends for the Workshop Facilitators. Generally, the facilitators require between 3 to 4 hours to customize the workshop materials and 2 hours for presenting the sessions if in person and 1 hour if online.
  • Number of Sessions to be Held. This is determined during the planning phase and will depend on the number of parents to be trained, the number of facilitators available, and whether the workshops will be in-person or online.
  • Online Workshops. School2Home recommends that the number of participants in the workshops is limited to approximately 25. Larger groups can be handled by dividing the group into smaller “rooms” using the group functions available on most webinar platforms.
  • Recorded Workshops for Future Use. Some schools have found it useful to record a workshop so parents can engage with the workshop at home. If you do this, be sure to alter the “group activities” into an individual activity. Ideally, there will be an artifact from each activity, e.g., an email, a survey, etc. Several programs can be used for making a video, including Nearpod, Peardeck, Edpuzzle, and Google Forms. Some of these are free.
  • Training the Trainers. The Parent Lead provides training to the facilitators as they work through the curriculum customization process. The district may also have a training specialist who can be brought on board to provide additional facilitation tips and techniques.

Promote School2Home

Promote School2Home. Incorporate information about School2Home in existing parent communications and meetings and include the School2Home logo on posters, flyers, website, and invitations to ensure parents are informed on upcoming events. This information should also be regularly shared at staff meetings to ensure all teachers support the recruitment for upcoming events and trainings.

Administer Parent Readiness Self-Assessment

Administer Parent Readiness Self-Assessment. Administer a Parent Readiness Self-Assessment to determine what parents know and to solicit their ideas on topics that interest them. Ideally, this survey is completed before the school year or at the orientation session. The results help facilitators finalize the content and schedule the workshops at convenient times for parents. The findings should be shared with staff so they can gain an understanding on the needs of parents.

Introduce School2Home at School Orientation

Introduce School2Home at School Orientation. The school orientation for students and parents provides an excellent opportunity to introduce School2Home and its goals. The orientation meeting is also an excellent time to introduce the school device, the school or district responsible use policy, and available low-cost Internet service opportunities. These topics will be addressed in future workshops for parents who need help.

Assess Other Parent Training Opportunities

Assess Other Parent Training Opportunities. Use the curriculum assessment tool to review the School2Home Parent curriculum with the Leadership Team (as delineated in the Workshop Guides and Slides) to understand the curriculum and determine if similar content has or will be provided by another partner, such as the school district or a different organization.

Customize Curriculum and Develop Workshop Schedule

Customize Curriculum and Develop Workshop Schedule. Using results of the Assessments, the parent team customizes the content of the School2Home curriculum, which is contained in the Facilitator Guides and Slide Presentations in the tools below. The teaching staff should be asked to review the workshop content so they can provide input and support recruitment efforts.

Register Parents for Workshops

Register Parents for Workshops. Registering parents is one of the most challenging aspects of implementing this component. Follow-up promotion is necessary using a mix of methods, such as flyers, robocalls, personal calls, texting and message boards. Social media apps (such as Remind, or Classroom Mojo) are also effective. Personal calls are especially crucial in times of distance learning. School2Home highly recommends that all teachers assist in the recruitment process. Offering extra credit or other incentives to students whose parents participate has helped boost parent participation.

Develop Recruitment Strategies for Hard to Reach Parents

Develop Recruitment Strategies for Hard to Reach Parents. Ideally, the parent training team will reach all parents in the first round of workshop scheduling. However, a percentage of the parent will require extra effort. The School Leadership Team needs to be innovative in developing strategies for reaching these parents. Home visits are one option, and partnering with community-based organizations is another.

Deliver the Workshops

Deliver the Workshops. Provide a comfortable and welcoming environment and, if possible, provide refreshments. These workshops provide an excellent chance for parents and teachers to get to know each other. Raffles at the end of a workshop have also been effective in virtual sessions.

Debrief with School Leadership Team

Debrief with School Leadership Team. The Leadership Team should also establish methods for regularly measuring parent engagement throughout the year. The outcomes listed for each workshop are an excellent place to start.

Other Tools & Guidance

  • Workshop Facilitator Slides and Suggested Script:
    • Introduction to School2Home: This workshop provides a brief overview of the School2Home goals, core components, and methods.  It can be offered with other school meetings.
    • Technology in Your School: This workshop helps parents acquire basic digital literacy knowledge and skills. This includes discussing and using the digital device the school is providing (hardware), the applications students will use, and ways to obtain technical support.  Parents will also learn about the Internet and how to conduct basic Internet searches.
    • Internet at Home: This workshop helps parents understand the importance of broadband.  Participants receive specific guidance on how to acquire a low-cost Internet connection to provide the best possible learning opportunity.
    • Email + More: This workshop helps parents use email for communications.  Parents not only receive help in setting up an account, but they also learn how to use some of the advanced tools of email programs, including ways to organize their emails, manage SPAM, set reminders on calendars, and other useful tips.
    • Digital Citizenship for Parents: Schools are encouraged to use presentations from Common Sense Digital Media. A short presentation on privacy, Cyberbullying, and Social Media is available.
    • Tips and Tools for Supporting your Child while Learning from Home: This workshop provides parents with information to support their child when learning at home.  Topics covered include the importance of making a space for learning, setting routines, staying focused, and staying healthy.  Parents also discuss strategies to help their child manage their digital lives and digital identities.
    • The School Learning Management System: In this session, facilitators review the Learning Management System (LMS) that their school uses.  Parents learn what an LMS is and how they can use this system to learn about their child’s assignments, attendance, and grades.  This workshop also helps parents with onboarding basics:  registering, activating, signing on, and linking their students.