Every year, schools work to build partnerships with parents through parental involvement events. Research shows that children are much more successful when their grown ups are involved. Parental involvement has always been an interest of mine, and today, I’d like to share a collection of parent night ideas that my schools have enjoyed. As we do our work as educators, it’s so important to be inclusive and innovative in reaching out to our families.
PARENTAL INVOVLEMENT EVENTS
NIGHT FOR FAMILY LITERACY (NFL)
This event is perfect for the start of the school year since it’s football season. NFL night stands for Night of Family Literacy, and the atmosphere is highly engaging for the kids. We encouraged the families to wear their favorite team jersey and invited our local football team in as readers the day of the event. This sparked interest for the kids to come back at night. We hosted a tailgate meal prior to our program. During the dinner time, you might have the football team return for pickup games on your playground or play tailgate music in the background.
After dinner, we had a storyteller come and share stories around our “campfire”. The children loved it, and we were able to share literacy tips through our speaker for parents and children to use at home. The key with your program is to make the program fun. You might bring in a magician, musical group, or better yet, an author. When you line up your program, make sure you express that the goal of the program is to promote reading at home. When families come into the program, it’s a great time to hand out a brochure or take home packet with ways parents can support their kids. You can also hand out tickets for door prize drawings which will ensure everyone stays!
WE LOVE LITERACY MONTH
One of my all time favorite events has to be our We Love Literacy Month plan. We begin this month long celebration at the beginning of February. We kick off the celebration with a brief assembly to explain the plans.
The month includes three separate components. First, we do a one month reading incentive. With it, we encourage all students to share their opinions on any book read during the month using the special conversation hearts I created. The forms are tailored to each grade level preK-5, and they are strung through the hallway. The kids enjoy reading what other kids are reading. Every completed review was an entry into a drawing for a collection of 10 books per grade level.
Around the 20th of February, we brought our families in for Read, Read, and Read S’More Night. You can probably guess what we offered as a treat at the end! So, at this event, we decorated our rooms like a campout. Teachers projected crackling fires on their smartboards, brought in lawn chairs and built fake campfires on their rugs, and shared their favorite picture book of all time in storytime fashion.
Families traveled from class to class to hear the books they liked. For this event, we did door prize tickets. Each teacher read his/her book three times, and at the end of each session, he/she drew a ticket out of their basket. The winner received a copy of the book for their home libraries.
After the last session, all families were brought in for hot chocolate and S’mores. We had just under 400 people come, and it took me two days to make the s’mores. You can follow THIS RECIPE if your school would like to give this a try.
POETRY JAM NIGHT
I have always wanted to do a Poetry Jam Night. Writing and teaching with poetry is one of my favorite things. I know many of you do too. So, how about an evening where you transform your school into a coffee house. Let children share poetry they’ve written orally in their classrooms and let parents roam and listen. You might invite a poetry author to come and speak. You can display poems that your students have written and explore haiku, cinquain, diamante, free verse, limericks, and rhyming poems. I think it’d be so much fun for kids and parents. Certainly you’d serve coffee and pastries too.
One very easy parental involvement activity you might try is a game night. Pull out all your favorite word building games and put them in one classroom. In another classroom, you might do a make and take where families can make gameboards for use at home. How about Bingo for Books? You could also include musical chairs for the same purpose, and finally, you can bring in tech with your computer lab by demonstrating how games can support literacy. The post to the left includes classroom games for literacy if you need ideas.
FAMILY MATH AND LITERACY NIGHT
At my previous school, we hosted Family Math, Science and Literacy Night. For this parent night, we split our attendees into two groups. One half of our attendees started in our multipurpose room, and one half started in the halls. We set up stations with math activities for estimation, probability, addition, subtraction, fractions, and multiplication. Science activities focused on matter, rocks and minerals, plants, and chemistry. Finally, we tied in literacy for all with books, poetry, word games, and these types of things.
After working through the two rotations, everyone returned to the multipurpose room for door prizes. My school has hosted this activity for nearly 20 years, and the school is always overflowing. The kids look forward to it every single year.
Parental involvement is really important, and schoolwide events help parents, children, and staff build partnerships in a fun way. Learning is fun, and learning doesn’t just happen at school. Using your schoolwide events to help parents learn ways they can help their kids at home makes a huge difference in children’s success at school.
THE EFFECTS OF PARENT INVOLVEMENT
Parental involvement events are really important. They help teachers, administrators, students and parents make positive connections. Many of our students’ grown ups have had negative experiences in school. These schoolwide events help parents, children, and staff build partnerships in a fun and positive way. Learning is fun, and learning doesn’t just happen at school. Using your schoolwide events to help parents learn ways they can help their kids at home makes a huge difference in children’s success at school.
THE RESEARCH ON PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT
If you’re interested in reading more on parental involvement and it’s importance, here are a few links to read.
OTHER PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT POSTS
- FIVE THINGS PARENTS CAN DO TO SUPPORT LITERACY LEARNING AT HOME
- PARENT INVOLVEMENT MATTERS
- WHY YOU NEED PARENTS AS YOUR PARTNERS