5 Ways We Can Build Parent Engagement in Our Schools

School districts across the nation are asking, where are the parents? I’ve been doing the work of family and community engagement for six years, and I can tell you that parents are present. They are working, they are contributing, raising and supporting their families.

One thing that I remind people of is perspective. There are a large number of variables as to why parental presence is lacking in many failing and low-performing schools. We have parents who were teenage parents, other parents who are products of failing school districts—with low literacy rates and high dropout rates—and parents whose work schedules conflict with school events and meetings. All of these factors contribute to the absence of parents from school and home.

We have to be more intentional about supporting, empowering and including parents in the decisions regarding their child’s education.

Parents and family are a child’s first source of education. They learn language, conflict resolution, how to treat others and most importantly how to respect and love themselves from the adults around them before they even enter school.

Accountability starts with all of us. Our actions in our homes, on the streets and in the community effect how our children act.

How Do We Build Parent Engagement and Accountability?

  1. It starts with building relationships! School leaders and educators have to be intentional about engaging parents and families.
  2. Reinforcing support and resources for more early learning centers in areas of at-risk and failing schools.
  3. Building effective academic support programs for parents to continue education at home.
  4. It requires a healthy balance of family and community engagement. Schools can’t do it alone. We all play a role!
  5. We have to be change agents in the economic plights of poverty. Homelessness, affordable healthcare and transportation all contribute to the presence of failing and underperforming schools.

Our sincere willingness to improve our schools is what is going to make change. Children who are struggling the most at school have to have parents who are willing to seek information that empowers them to advocate for their child(ren) and help them to find success.

Parents have to be empowered to hold their school leaders, community leaders, elected officials and even other parent leaders within the community accountable. It takes a village to raise a child—that’s all of us but we have to know the role that we play and why it’s important to the success of our children.


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