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Parent engagement activities

Did you know?

Parents who are viewed as “hard to reach” often see the school as “hard to reach.”

There are many strategies for increasing parent involvement in schools, including:

Communicating with parents

Using a variety of communications methods can help improve communications. Consider:

  • Print such as postcards, calendars, daily logs/agendas
  • Media such as email, text messaging, automated or personal phone calls
  • Face-to-face such as parent seminars or meetings

Translating information into different languages and pointing parents to existing resources available in multiple languages increases the number of parents you can reach.

Newsletters, the school’s website and social media channels are proven methods for reaching parents. Some tips to maximize the communications impact include:

Tips for newsletters:

  • At the beginning of the school year, create a calendar of topics and submission deadlines for the year
  • Invite parents who have expertise on a topic to be a guest writer
  • Dedicate a spot in the newsletter for parent communication and use the same spot consistently
  • Invite parent volunteers to translate the newsletter into relevant languages
  • Place a link to the newsletter on the school’s website
  • Request regular feedback from parents about the content, format, readability and relevance

Tips for the school website – Parent’s Corner

  • Have a regular space dedicated for parent information (for example, Parent’s Corner) and use this space to communicate about school events, to showcase students’ work (such as art projects or short stories) and to display parenting or health information videos and tips
  • Post parent surveys on the website
  • Include a link to the which has parenting articles, blogs, and videos

Tips for social media

  • Review board-wide social media guidelines as a first step
  • Invite parents with expertise in social media to help with writing, maintaining or monitoring
  • Ask parents what interests them to guide the information being created and posted
  • Recruit youth to support the school’s social media initiative
  • Invite parents to connect with, Twitter or Facebook for parenting information

Giving parents a voice

Giving parents opportunities to be heard helps school staff to understand community issues from a parent perspective and engages parents in decision making about important issues that impact their families

Parent feedback can be used to gain insight and is useful for gauging:

  • Satisfaction with classroom teaching strategies and extracurricular programs
  • Level of current family engagement at home and at school
  • Priority community issues; and
  • Need for specific family services, programs or events.

Tips for gathering parent feedback

Tips for parent surveys

  • Be clear about the purpose of the survey and have parents help to develop the survey questions
  • Pilot test the questions with a small group of parents before sending it out
  • Consider the most convenient time and method for parents to receive the survey
  • Assure parents that action is possible if they identify changes that they would like to see implemented

Hosting parent sessions and events

Get parents involved in planning activities that will:

  • meet the needs and interests of families attending your school
  • increase their involvement with their child and their child’s learning

Tips for hosting events

How to plan coffee talks for your school

Purpose of a coffee chat:

  • Create opportunities for parents to connect and socialize
  • Help connect parents to volunteer opportunities within the school
  • Bring more caring adults into the building
  • Provide information and enhance learning on a given topic


  1. Getting started
    Tips to recruit a parent coordinator
    • Approach school council
    • Post a job “call out” for an expression of interest
    • Send email to all parents
    • Use the school board telephone system “synrevoice”
    • Personally invite parents that you have existing relationships with
    • For Secondary Schools: Use Grade 8 parent nights to advertise opportunities
  2. Assessment – What do parents want to know about?
    • Obtain information about the needs of your parents (common issues, hot topics, community related issues)
    • Collect information in a parent wide school survey
  3. Provide a list of popular topics
    • Create a list of topics and seek out speakers from local community organizations at ‘low cost or no cost’
  4. Set a consistent time and day for meetings throughout the year
    • Decide together with parents, the best time of the day to offer the event (during the school day, in the evening, or both)
    • Provide a sample agenda that can be used to structure each session
        Time Agenda Item
        9:45 Join us for coffee and talk with other parents
        10:00 Speaker presents topic highlights
        10:20 Interactive discussion and sharing
        10:40 Questions and further sharing
        10:50 Principal updates
        11:00 Wrap-up and thank you for coming
  5. Evaluation and planning for the next year
    • Use a standard evaluation to assess how each topic/presentation was received
    • Create a schedule of topics and speakers in the spring to prepare for the upcoming school year. Remember to invite grade 8 parents from feeder schools to get involved in planning for these events.

Providing volunteer opportunities

Parents volunteering for school activities fosters positive relationships between youth and adults, creates a welcoming environment and a sense of community. Parents can be offered different ways to become involved, such as:

Tips for increasing parent volunteering

  • Be strategic in how you ask parents to become involved:
    • Ask early in the year
    • Make the request small and simple
    • Ask parents whose children are new to the school
    • Ask parents about interest, passions, skills
  • Acknowledge volunteer contributions through notes of thanks and recognition
  • Spread the workload among parents
  • Align volunteering opportunities with parents’ skill sets, expertise and interests

"Parent-teacher interviews provide an opportunity for the parents to build a bridge between the home and school. Collaborative relationships between teachers and parents help to improve students’ chances for success."
Harris and Goodall, 2007 People for Education

Parent-teacher interviews

Parent-teacher interviews are a great opportunity to engage parents and discuss ways for them to become involved at your school.

Tips for parent-teacher interviews

  • Advise parents ahead of time when they will be receiving reports on their child’s progress
  • Consider sending parents information on how they can prepare for the parent-teacher interview
  • Encourage staff and parents to share ideas on how they can work together to help the child/youth meet their goals


To help prepare parents for the interview, consider sending home:

For more information or consultation: