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Mel Gravely

Five Recommendations to Promote Parent Involvement in Your Head Start Program

family_studyResearch shows that young children are more likely to succeed academically and are less likely to engage in violent behavior in the future if their families are involved in their education. Many parents say, however, that they feel unwelcome or uncomfortable in their children’s schools. The activities below will help your Head Start program by letting parents know they are welcome in school and by helping them find ways to contribute to their children’s education both in and out of the program.

  1. Create a Head Start program climate and structures that supports family involvement. Parents, who feel welcome, support Head Start programs long after they have completed the program. A welcoming climate is one of the best cures for retention issues in Head Start.
  2. Invite families to share hopes for and concerns about children and then work together to set children goals. This is a great way to develop relationships with your Head Start families. But just remember, what is said in the program, stays in the program. Gossip Kills.
  3. Initiate a classroom volunteer program. Parents have little time to volunteer. But there are great ways to volunteer just a few minutes of their time during the week. And you know who is the happiest when parents volunteer? The children…
  4. Following conference time, offer workshops on improving classroom skills. Head Start programs have great opportunities to demonstrate to parents countless ways to support their child’s education. Work with all teaching staff to develop creative ideas for families to encourage learning.
  5. Compile a wish list that includes both goods — from craft sticks to carpet squares and services — from stapling newsletters to chaperoning field trips to coordinating special events — that parents might provide. Be sure the list includes many free or inexpensive items and activities that do not demand a great deal of time or a long-term commitment.

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