Parental Involvement and Early Learning Success

Parental Involvement and Early Learning SuccessNikkie Zanevsky recently posted a blog over at the SPARK Community entitled 3 Practical Strategies for Improving Parent Involvement in Education. If you haven’t read it yet you should check it out.

In a recent study conducted by The Center for Public Education, Joyce Epstein of the Johns Hopkins University, Center of School, Family and Community Partnerships, broke out parent involvement into six general categories:


1. Parenting, in which schools help families with their parenting skills by providing information on children’s developmental stages and offering advice on learning-friendly home environments;

2. Communicating, or working to educate families about their child’s progress and school services and providing opportunities for parents to communicate with the school;

3. Volunteering, which ranges from offering opportunities for parents to visit their child’s school to finding ways to recruit and train them to work in the school or classroom;

4. Learning at home, in which schools and educators share ideas to promote at-home learning through high expectations and strategies so parents can monitor and help with homework.

5. Decision-making, in which schools include families as partners in school organizations, advisory panels, and similar committees.

6. Community collaboration, a two-way outreach strategy in which community or business groups are involved in education and schools encourage family participation in the community.

In a subsequent study conducted by the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL), it was determined that “Programs and interventions that engage families in supporting their children’s learning at home are linked to higher student achievement.”

Armed with this information, Nikkie provided three strategies that educators can use to increase parent involvement in education, and improve early learning. They are:

Use assessment data you already have. For example, if you use our Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®) then you can use the Lexile information to recommend books for home reading. If you use CPAA™ there are built-in parent reports with home-based activity recommendations. Parents are accustomed to receiving summative test results that they can’t do much about. By sharing home reading or activity recommendations throughout the year, we can better equip them to truly impact their children’s achievement.

Get more out of your parent-teacher conferences by getting parents to answer a few questions in advance. This can provide some great pre-conference information from which to create a dialogue and action plan.

Prioritize the personal touch. This idea from one of NWEA’s partners – Kathy Rodriguez at the Milpitas Unified School District in California – who provides feedback and suggestions to parents weekly by way of a form that she sends home with each student on Fridays.

To learn more about these great ideas for improving parent involvement, take a moment to read the original post in the SPARK community. We’d also love to hear about your ideas for engaging parents in their children’s educations. It’s a key part of early learning success, so drop a comment below to share what has worked for you.