What is Parent Involvement

What is Parent Involvement?

Definitions

Parents:

The Title I law defines "parents" as the legal guardian or other person standing in the place of the parents or legal guardians... this may include a person such as a grandparent, stepparent, aunt, uncle, older sibling or other person either with whom a child lives or who has been designated by a parent or legal guardian to act in place of parent or legal guardian regarding all aspects of the child's education.

Parent Involvement:

Parent Involvement is the participation of parents in school activities. It is the commitment of time, energy, and good will to promote success for students.

Levels of Parent Involvement

It is important to recognize that parents may become involved in schools in a number of different ways. Individual schools might have great family participation on one level and be lacking in another. In order to reap the range of possible benefits from parent involvement, schools should promote involvement at each level. This guide identifies four levels of involvement. Parents become involved by:

  • volunteering to support school projects not directly related to one's own child such as:

participating in fund raising, chaperoning for field trips, acting as a room parent, tutoring or volunteering to spend time in the class or school

  • representing parents as school decision makers such as:

becoming active in Title I activities, Shared Decision Making Teams or Parent/Teacher Organization leadership.

All parents are active on the first level in some way each day. Most parents have the means and the will to be active regularly on the second level. Many parents act as school volunteers during their children's school careers. Some parents have the time and inclination to become involved as school leaders.

What Parent Involvement Should Not Be

This guide defines parent involvement as family participation that "promotes success for students". This suggests only positive things for schools. Here is a list of things we should not expect parent involvement to be:

  • the solution to all academic or discipline problems in a school
  • a way to get more from families than they have to give
  • destructive (a way to attack, embarrass or undermine individuals and the school)
  • demeaning to parents (relegating them to second class status as participants in their child's school)
  • a replacement for school personnel or other community resources (such as business partner volunteers)
  • unusual (everyone in a school should get used to having parents be present and a part of the school environment)
  • negative conferencing (even when sharing bad news, parents and staff should always seek positive solutions).

Isolation and Conflict

Parent involvement is defined here as participation that promotes success for students. Here are two other paradigms for school/family interaction:

  • Schools that lack parental participation can be said to be working in isolation from parents.
  • Schools that have active and interested families but do not provide real opportunities for parental involvement in decision making may experience conflict with families. This kind of conflict differs from the normal disagreements associated with school improvement changes.
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