Encouraging parent involvement in schools and day care centers requires more than just getting a parent and child into the same room. To create quality interactions between them, offer various opportunities for the two to team up and connect. Going at it from several angles will help keep the interaction interesting and might spark some unsolicited bonding.
Create a monthly newsletter. Include information such as what the child is studying, special projects, awards received, field trips or any other exciting stories that have happened in the past month. Throw in some simple parenting tips, kid-friendly meal ideas or interesting facts. This newsletter will help keep parents up-to-date with their child’s life. It might even start a dinnertime discussion that lasts longer than “What did you do at school today?” and “Nothing.”
Ask for volunteers and offer a parent sign-up sheet. This allows parents to make the decision to get involved and when it is convenient for them. If parents can’t make it because of work obligations, offer other opportunities at different times. The volunteers can help with holiday crafts or games, for example.
Send home “Do at home” projects with detailed instructions and explanations. These should only be projects that require 30 minutes or less of dedication time a day or can be strung over a longer period -- parents often have busy schedules and this should be a positive involvement, not a burden. Encourage the parents to help with some component of the project, such as a family tree project that requires the parents to add their background information or a parent questionnaire that asks about topics when they were the child’s age.
Have Special Guest Day. Encourage the children to invite a parent for a few hours and plan some team-building exercises or creative activities. Art creations, building projects, cooking projects or word puzzles can be done in parent-child teams. The child will feel special and it makes for a good bonding experience.
Plan a weekend family field day. Set up some sack races, obstacle courses, three-legged races or treasure hunts for parent-child teams to compete in. Offer simple prizes or ribbons. Make it a potluck or picnic to round out the day. This not only gets parents involved, it also connects them with the community while having some outdoor amusement.