November is Family Engagement Month
Posted on October 18, 2021, by GAPMP
It’s important to take time to reflect, celebrate, and improve on the work we do with families. However, for the GaPMP family engagement is important every day, all year long. Parent mentors work one-on-one, train groups, support educators, and connect with community partners. In working with families, schools and community, parent mentors seek to solve adaptive challenges by blending technical and adaptive solutions. While focusing on the 6 National Standards for Family Engagement, parent mentors are always looking to deepen interactions with our families and partners by providing information, encouraging authentic stakeholder input, collaborating, and measuring our impact on student outcomes. Most importantly, never underestimate the value of the shared, lived experience parent mentors bring to their role.
Anne Ladd – Family Engagement Specialist for the Ga Dept. of Education Division for Special Education Services and Supports, Parent Mentor Partnership Program Supervisor
GaDOE Highlights Outstanding District Family Engagement Initiatives
The Family-School Partnership Program promotes recognition of all the parents of Georgia students as they partner with schools to support the learning of their children. This year includes a friendly competition between local education agencies charged with creating a virtual gaming opportunity that encourages home-based learning in a family-fun way. The winner will be announced on National Parental Involvement Day (Nov. 18, 2021)
Need some inspiration? You have come to the right place.
We are collecting Family Engagement resources for you and also picked up some insight from Parent Mentors themselves, elaborating on the work they are doing. Watch for updates on this page during the month of Nov.
“Being based at EmCompass Academy (the GNETS campus), I wanted to help those kids and their families, have the fun of family nights, student participation programs, etc so I reached out to the church across the street from the campus and a women’s civic group. The church puts on a Pumpkin Patch each year, with games and activities. Our students were allowed to attend the pumpkin patch. The staff felt the pull to sponsor the campus. They come to eat lunch, read to the students, and assisted in child watch, so the parents could attend a resource fair. They also give gifts to the staff to encourage everyone. The civic group volunteered at family nights, supplying craft supplies for the students to make gifts to give their parents.”Amy Ambrose – Effingham County
“Schools in our districts offer multiple ways for families to connect to the school. Things are definitely not “back to normal” as in pre-Covid days, but our schools are working diligently to make sure our families are welcomed, feel connected, and in the loop. Our district utilizes social media and each school reaches out to families via newsletter, one call, and remind. Although the level of participation varies by each school, the opportunities are there. Our teachers utilize google classroom and all have their individual web pages as well. Currently, I organize our Buddy Ball program. Each Saturday, students (with an IEP) come out and play a game of organized t-ball or baseball (based on ability). We have volunteers from our high school baseball team and the high school Honor Society. We all wear our Buddy Ball shirts and everyone supports all our players. It is a great event for players, parents, guardians, and volunteers. We offer Buddy Ball to all our students with IEP’s and information regarding Buddy Ball is shared district wide.”Billie Foulk – Glynn County
“Families worked on building partnerships with school staff by encouraging their child to continue working at home. This included reading more and completing assignments at home. It is important for teachers to see that parents are engaged in their child’s learning.”Bernadette Bennett – Pelham City
Learn about National Parental Involvement Day on November 18, 2021
Project Appleseed offers a whole page of family engagement resources and ideas for schools
Phone calls, emails, letters to/from teachers. Our district website has tons of information for our parents. They can check the calendar of events; Parent Resource Tab, Family engagement input form; Powerschool login for parents; Parent resource for digital learning; Meeting feedback form. We have a Parent Advisory Team Parent meetings, workshops, classes The Parent Mentor Parent Surveys Local School Governance Team PTO meetings Parent Involvement Nights Home visits Parent Lunches
“Parents made sure to use their communication log to track all the times they communicated with their child’s teacher. Although I only required three times per month, most of them were able to show me that they communicated almost daily in one way or another. They also kept a calendar of events and were able to keep a highlighted tracker of which events they tuned into.”LaToya Roper – Columbia County
“We try very hard to ensure parents feel like a true part of our team. “Knowledge is Power” is my theme this year. As a parent mentor, I have planned monthly “Snacks and Facts” meetings regarding a variety of topics for our parents of students with IEPs. I regularly update my webpage as well as communicate with parents through Infinite Campus, and email. I am able to send out flyers and brochures and help to make certain that the parents are aware of who the case manager is and how to contact them if needed. As a school system, we communicate with all families and the community on a regular basis regarding school-wide events and activities, through phone and text messages, emails, social media, school newsletters, flyers. The schools share information in English and other languages to the extent possible through written communications, meetings, conferences, and Family Engagement events in order for families to understand the schools’ academic standards and assessments as well as ways parents can monitor their child’s progress and work with educators as partners to help our students succeed.”Missy Sullivan – Carrollton City
The Family School Partnership program through the Ga. Dept. of Education offers a whole page of Family Engagement Month resources with a special emphasis on digital learning
“Staying connected has evolved during the last 2 school years due to the pandemic, but in some ways that has been good because it highlighted the importance of communication. Our district moved from a one-way notification system to a two-way communication system. One thing I have noticed: when I make an announcement using this system, I usually am contacted by a parent about an unrelated topic. This illustrates the value of regular, positive communication which reminds parents that we are here and eager to communicate. In addition, as conditions slowly return to normal, parents are invited to participate in school governance team meetings; to attend grade-level presentations; as well as presentations and extra-curricular events. Our principals share weekly reminders of what is coming up at each school and invite parent feedback and comments.”Amanda Locke – Evans County
“Parents may contact the student’s teacher via email, phone, text, or in person. Parents may also connect with school administration in the same manner. We use Remind 101 to communicate as well. Parents also have access to Power School to access grades and such. Parent participation in the IEP process and extracurricular activities are encouraged so that families may build relationships with school employees.”Lisa Gillis – Brantley County
Phone calls, emails, letters to/from teachers.
Website has tons of information for our parents. They can check the calendar of events; Parent Resource Tab, Family engagement input form; Powerschool login for parents; Parent resource for digital learning; Meeting feedback form
We have a Parent Advisory Team
Parent meetings, workshops, classes
The Parent Mentor
Local School Governance Team
Parent Involvement Nights
Parent LunchesChristina Holland – Candler County
“This parent works with her children’s teachers but has expressed concern about how to communicate effectively with the teachers and staff. She shared her eagerness to use the new messaging system to share photos of homework when her children have questions about assignments. The best part: I was training on the 2-way aspects of the messaging system and she came up with how it could be used to partner with the teacher to support her children academically.”Alexandria Wright – DeKalb County
Other places to find ideas:
National PTA Special Education Toolkit
68 Parent Involvement Ideas from the Ga DOE
Florida Early Learning Family Engagement Month activities
From Understood.org: What the Research Says