Getting parents and caring family members engaged with their students starts with letting them know they are “Welcome". They need to feel comfortable being at the school. If they don’t feel at ease or welcome, they are more likely to skip parent/teacher conferences, they won’t volunteer, and they will miss out on what is going on in their child’s classroom.
Parent organizations and schools can start by creating an environment that welcomes all of your families.
10 Ways to Make Parents & Families Feel Welcome
It all starts with communication. Consistent communication that lets parents know they are welcome and needed to be partners in the education of their students. Your most valuable tool – your parent organization website. Use this as the go-to place for information. Spanish? French? Korean? Websites can be easily translated into many languages.
#2 Be the Source
Your parent organization can serve as the source of information for families. Start with your website! On your site include names, pictures, and contact information for all of the valuable and important people in your school.
#3 Front Office
It’s the first stop when parents enter the building. The person behind the front desk serves as the ambassador for your building, the welcome committee, provides customer support – it is a big job! If parent volunteers are responsible for answering phones or greeting visitors, be sure they understand how important this job is and have training and understand the expectations.
#4 Encourage Volunteering
Parents want their children to succeed in school and since we know that student success increases with engaged parents it is important for schools and parent organizations to encourage parent volunteerism.
A successful volunteer program includes:
- Variety of opportunities that include different skills
- Meaningful opportunities
- Explain the value of volunteering. Who benefits when the parents volunteer?
- At-home options
- Weekend options
#5 An Engaged Principal
Is your principal visible at school events? Parents will feel more comfortable calling when a problem arises if they feel that the principal welcomes parents.
#6 Academic Information Meetings
A lot has changed in education! Help parents understand what their children are doing in math, reading, and at school by hosting meetings and workshops that give parents insight to the curriculum.
#7 Newcomer Committee
If your school has an established enrollment, a newcomer committee can go a long way to making new families feel welcome to the neighborhood. Work with your school’s administrators to help new families that arrive during the year get connected with your Newcomer Committee.
At meetings and family events, have a greeter at the door that is available to answer questions and make all of your guests feel welcomed.
#9 Child Care
If you are hosting a parent event, be sure to consider if the reason parents are not participating is because they do not have child care for their students or siblings. If appropriate, offer an option in the building for parents to drop-off their children so they can focus on the program or the meeting.
#10 Ask Parents
Don't be afraid of asking parents what makes them feel comfortable in their child's school and implement some of their ideas. What a great way of understanding and building a partnership with parents. Do they feel welcome in the school? Do they feel like they are valued as part of their child's educational team? Is the parent organization approachable? Is the staff approachable?