by Heather Ippolito, VP Family Engagement
In July we introduced the PTA National Standards for Family School Partnerships and Standard 1- Welcoming All Families on this blog. Today we are going to share some tips and best practices for Standard 2:
The school, district, the PTA, and families need to engage in regular, two-way, meaningful communication about student learning and engagement opportunities. This is one area that we hear complaints about regularly– parents feel like information is just pushed out to them– they are not being invited to participate in the conversation. Parents want to be heard, to share their thoughts and opinions, and to feel included in what is happening at the school.
Here are some tips for communicating more effectively with the families on your campus:
- Use terms that your parents can understand– many families don’t understand educational jargon and abbreviations so try not to use them!
- Get to know your families to discover how they like their communication– are they on specific social media platforms, do they prefer email, texts, phone calls, fliers, or a combination of things.
- Communication must be in a family’s home language. There are lots of tools to help with this– from Google Translate for your website to using school staff as translators and interpreters. Note: Translators transpose writing into a different language and interpreters translate speaking into a different language.
- Family nights at the school site offer a chance for families, teachers, and administrators to interact and have meaningful conversations about curriculum and other issues that impact our children. Use these events to build relationships so families feel able to turn to the school when they need help for their children.
- Be consistent with your communication. Post to your social media regularly and/or have a monthly newsletter. Families like to know that they will be receiving information from the PTA and the school regularly.
- Survey families to identify their issues and concerns, and plan with school officials for ways to respond to those.
If you see a great example of family engagement, we want to hear about it. Take a moment to complete this simple form so that we can recognize units, councils, and districts that are doing amazing work in the area of family engagement!