Educators: Make an extra effort to reach your hard-to-reach parents

There is no single profile of a hard-to-reach parent. One might be a recent immigrant struggling to manage language barriers and transportation issues. Another might be a single mom who has difficulty arranging for child care. Yet another might be a busy professional whose long hours and hectic schedule leave little time for anything else.

Parents may be difficult to contact for different reasons, but there are strategies you can use for getting these parents on board. For example:

  • If parents don’t, won’t or can’t come to you, go to them. Drop by the home to discuss issues with their child, simply to say hello or to invite them to an event at the school. If getting to the school is difficult for a parent, offer to meet at the library, the community coffee shop or even the local shopping mall. It’s the face-to-face interaction that’s important, not the setting.
  • Involve parents in decision making. While some parents may enjoy organizing classroom supplies, others may be more likely to get involved if they perceive what they are being asked to do as something more weighty and meaningful. An invitation to participate on a school governance or curriculum review committee might be just what it takes to make that important school-parent connection.
  • Help parents help their children. Plan workshops that provide information on parenting, helping with homework, etc.—whatever the parents of your students tell you they need.

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