Monday, November 1, 2010

Perks for Parent Involvement
Can’t Be a Bad Thing

A new program in Detroit has been making news headlines. The "I'm In" program rewards parents with points for attending workshops and participating in other activities at the District’s eight Parent Resource Centers. The points parents accumulate on their "I'm In" cards can be traded for discounts at local businesses. Read more…

But are bribes really needed to get parents involved in their child’s education? some detractors ask. That involvement is part of being a parent and raising a child, they say. Knowing you are actively involved should be enough of a reward.

Besides, they add, everyone knows that incentives don’t work.

Those detractors make good points, but anyone who has taught in or led a school with a large population of poor, immigrant, or minority families would not be so quick to judge. Educators in those schools know the hurdles that poor families face, and they bend over backwards to include those families in school activities and to support them in other ways.

They know what the research says, too: When parents are involved in their children’s education, those kids have higher grades and standardized test scores, improved behavior, and better social skills.

Plus, any program that is able to actively engage local businesses with area schools is a win-win for the entire community.
     > > > > Scroll down the page for links to
                   dozens of parent involvement ideas
So why wouldn’t schools want to offer incentives to get hard-to-reach parents involved? Offering incentives can make a difference by showing those parents that schools care enough to go the extra mile. There’s nothing wrong with giving a little incentive to get parents to show up. Doing that can go a long way toward increasing parents' comfort levels and eliminating negative feelings they might have toward schools in general or their own abilities to help their children achieve.

And who knows? A few of those parents might even decide to stay involved. Then schools can urge those parents to bring others along.


Let's give Detroit credit for trying to turnaround their schools and trying a few experiments to get parents and others involved in that effort. The video below, produced by the district, is one more piece of its "I'm In" campaign, which is intent on highlighting the district's schools and promoting community engagement.


  • Seventy-Five Ideas to Build Parent Involvement and Support [might require free registration]

  • 68 Parent Involvement Ideas That Really Work [pdf]

  • More Ideas for Parent Involvement


    Parent Involvement in Schools
    Parent involvement in schools is much more than parent conferences and PTOs. These articles from Education World’s archive share practical ways in which schools are involving parents. These strategies are working for others -- and they could work for you.

    Got Three Hours? A School Needs You
    This Education World article shares news of Three for Me, a parent involvement program that can help get parents more involved in your school. Included: Tips for getting dads involved.

    Parent Involvement Checklist
    Does your school do a good job of reaching out to parents? If you can do some more work in this area, these resources from Project Appleseed -- including the Parent Involvement Pledge -- are sure to help.

    Parent Involvement Activities in School Improvement Plans
    This study of Title I schools in the Northwest Region (U.S.) identifies effective and potentially effective parent involvement activities. [pdf]

    Parent Involvement Activities for Transition
    These 20 activities can help involve parents at all levels, but particularly those parents who want to support students as they make the transition to middle or high school. [pdf]

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