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Incorporating family identities into school life

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If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to educate one.

Families are the colourful, multicultural, unique and multifaceted building blocks of any school community. A harmonious, integrated affiliation between parents and the school strengthens the student’s support network to work towards the same goal – providing the best education and opportunities possible for the student.

No one denies that parent involvement in their child’s school life positively impacts their learning. But is your school making a genuine effort to include parents?

Although some people naturally gravitate towards parent helper roles within the school, other caregivers may be more hesitant. There are many reasons for this including lack of knowledge of how they can contribute, low self-esteem or shyness, minimal free time or disinterest.

As a school, providing an accommodating community culture, inclusive of a variety of identifiable values, is the best way to make parents feel welcome. A natural manifestation of this culture is regular communication between the school and parents.  Using preferred communication channels to keep parents up to date with school participation opportunities ensures parents are informed of their options.

Schools need to be open to exploring new elements of parental involvement in school life. Help parents find their identity in the school community by being open to their ideas.

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Exposing children and teenagers to new opportunities, hobbies and ways of life broadens their horizon and helps them to find things they’re passionate about.

People love to share their talents and pass on their passion to the next generation. Parents are far more likely to be involved with school if it comprises something they’re interested in.

Parents and caregivers are guaranteed to be harbouring untapped teaching resources to create diversity and excitement for your students. Unlocking the facets that make up their identity may reveal a whole new layer of interactive learning and extracurricular opportunities for children. The only way to do this is by evolving your connection with them.

Communication is so critical to evolve relationships between the school and parents. Going beyond the typical conversation of the child’s progress may uncover many interesting aspects of students’ family life that has the potential to be incorporated into the learning curriculum.

As you get to know parents better, their talents, mannerisms, personality, passions and hobbies will be exposed. Even if they are reluctant to ‘make the first move’ in asking to utilise their talent or expertise within school life, you can certainly give them the invitation.

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It all starts with a conversation.

“You like basketball? Have you thought about coaching a Year 8 team?”

“Sam’s lunches always look amazing! Would you like to contribute to the bake sale to raise money for school camp?”

“Your fluency in Maori is excellent. Would you be interested in teaching the class a few phrases during Maori Language Week?”

“You clearly have a heart for the wellbeing of the school community. Have you thought about joining the Board of Trustees?”

Communities are about relationships. Relationships are about communication. Help your students’ parents feel included and find their identity within their child’s school life through effective, regular communication.

To learn more about effective parent-school communication and strategies to involve parents at school, download the white paper.

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