Educators know that family support is vital to a student’s success. Studies show a strong and powerful correlation between parent engagement and their child’s GPA, graduation rate, test scores, and social skills. Teachers themselves rate family support in education as the most important factor in a student’s success, ahead of their own teaching skill, according to our recent survey.
To create effective family support in education, parents and teachers need trust and a real person-to-person connection. Parents need to know that they have meaningful ways to contribute to their own child’s learning as well as the success of a broader class and school community. Parents get a tremendous sense of value when they have an impact on children Click To Tweet
How can we achieve that?
While there are several key ingredients, the one aspect that remains constant is the deeper personal connection and opportunities that are meaningful to a specific parent based on who they are and what they can contribute. With the introduction of Parent Interests on ClassTag, you can get to know parents and invite them to volunteer in a way that they would find relevant and as a result motivating.
How can you use parent interests in your classroom / school?
- Role Models to expand horizons
The importance of role models for children cannot be overstated. As an educator, you can use all the help you can get in helping to mold and direct students. Parents want to help if they know their contribution can make an impact and the opportunity is relevant for them. Relevancy is key to improving parent engagement!
Children have a naturally limited number of role models they are exposed to in real life – their own parents, teachers and from time to time other relatives and family friends. You can help expose children to other real life role models by having other parents talk about their experiences and values by sharing stories or even simply participating in a class activity.
The Huffington Post has recently featured ClassTag’s approach in this article: Kids Need Role Models. Why Don’t We Use The Ones Right in Front of Us?
2. Volunteers with specific skills
Having parents participate in person for various activities is certainly a challenge! Parents are busy as well, managing many different priorities. However, the practice of skills-based volunteering is undoubtedly showing successful engagement and has been adopted by all the leading corporations. Why is that? The answer is fairly simple, volunteers that contribute their skills feel they are doing high impact work that meets their unique talents and abilities.
In this Education Week article, ClassTag’s CEO is sharing one of the stories about the success of skills-based volunteering when it comes to the classroom context. Ewelina, a 1st-grade parent, shared her frustration of being called upon to participate in her daughter’s school activities. “It was never anything I had an interest in or that fit my talents, so I begrudgingly participated or skipped altogether,” says Ewelina. After sharing her interests in ClassTag, Ewelina was asked to visit his daughter’s class one morning to discuss her occupation. Ewelina is a brand manager and was delighted to participate and talk about the power of storytelling.
You can find use for any set of skills and interests ranging from pet lovers to tech gurus, parents interested in sports or even some rather exotic hobbies that might be interesting.
3. Career Options & Professions
College and career choice conversation starts from Preschool these days and goes on till the end of school. At various points in time the interest in different professions might be different, but it is never too early or too late to show students what those choices practically mean. Take a vote with your class about the careers they are interested in and prompt parents to come in for 15 minutes to share their experiences! Instant boost to parent engagement and win-win for everyone involved.
4. Cultural Competency
One of the key aspects of student’s growth is developing cultural competency. Different cultures are what makes our schools so fascinating and enriching, but in the same time it represents a challenge to educators. What a better to instill cultural competency then to invite parents to talk about their backgrounds, traditions, cuisines, do’s and don’ts of their cultures?
5. Personal Relationships
Are there parents in your classes over the past years with whom you developed deeper relationships? I am certain you would say “Yes”, probably also with a smile on your face remembering your deeper connection and relationship. Developing relationships takes time and, obviously, desire on both sides, but the foundation of this relationship is the deeper personal connection, who these parents are as people and understanding their context. Getting a glimpse of their interests and skills opens up opportunities to get to know them on a personal level and mention in the conversation: “I noticed you are interested in photography. Do you do it professionally or as a hobby?”
Ready to start?
Excellent! You can log into your ClassTag account to check out what parents have already provided as a part of your Classroom Stats page or get started with ClassTag to organize your parent community.
If you would like more guidance, we have put together this step-by-step overview of Parent Interests on ClassTag.
Have you tried Parent Interests already? Have success stories and challenges to share! Please comment!