Diversity and family involvement in schools

Posted by on November 25, 2005

[posted from Public Education Network newsblast]


Family involvement in schools is often limited to a small group of parents who seem to do everything. Culturally diverse families may not feel they fit in at the school or have a different perspective on what it means to be involved, so they are often left out of school activities. How can schools move beyond a limited level of family involvement and encourage all families to become more active in their children’s schools and education? A new strategy brief from the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL) helps answer this question. It discusses strategies helpful to schools that want to broaden and deepen involvement beyond the traditional fundraising or party-planning activities. Chris Ferguson, author of the brief, says that research has indicated that parents, regardless of their ethnicity, culture, or economic status are interested in their children’s education. “They just may not know how to help their children with school matters,” she says, “or they may feel like they don’t have the knowledge or expertise to help their children with school work.” According to Ferguson, schools can help parents become more comfortable playing a strong role in their children’s education. Schools that are successful involving families are able to build on the cultural values of families and foster communication with families. Successful schools have also created an inviting environment for families and often facilitate involvement by providing transportation, translators, and other similar services. They can also help parents learn strategies to support their children’s academic needs. “All schools can increase their parent and family involvement,” says Ferguson. “It just takes time and innovative strategies to develop a strong, two-way relationship.”


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