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Family School Partnerships


Family School Partnerships

This group is a forum to discuss work related to the PTA National Standards for Family-School Partnerships. Share you successes and get advice on your challanges.

Members: 27
Latest Activity: Jun 13

Discussion Forum

Access to some of the greatest minds on family engagement. FREE!

The Academic Development Institute has published a new handbook that is free to download. The aptly named Handbook on Family and Community Engagement has a ginormous number of chapters written by…Continue

Tags: research, education, sherriwilson, Handbook, PTA

Started by sherriwilson Sep 30, 2011.

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Comment by MJ Bolt on September 30, 2011 at 5:12pm
Sherri - I have reviewed this document. It is great! I especialy like the Chapter on Data:"Making Data Matter in Family Engagement," -- I think this is a concrete area that we can go for, and how important! I emplore everyone to check this *FREE* download out!
Comment by sherriwilson on September 30, 2011 at 1:59pm

No problem, MJ! I am happy to help. See the discussion for a link to the greatest minds in school-family-community engagement. I just posted a link to a free download from the Academic Development Institute. Its fantastic!


Comment by MJ Bolt on September 30, 2011 at 1:44pm
Thanks Sherri. I appreciate it! Family School Partnerships and Family engagement are my passion! Any thing else you want to send my way feel free!
Comment by sherriwilson on September 30, 2011 at 1:41pm
MJ, I would be delighted! That's what I am here for! I just sent out a message to all of the state Family Engagement Chairs and gave you props for your great response so early this morning, so please, feel free ;-)
Comment by MJ Bolt on September 30, 2011 at 1:39pm

Sherri - would you give me permission to repost your response on my blog I'm creating? I think your response about the role that parents play is fabulous!


Comment by sherriwilson on September 30, 2011 at 11:45am
Haha! Glad I could help. I was half asleep when I wrote it ;0) Let me know if you need anything else and post here anytime if you want a sounding board for your ideas!
Comment by Angelia Mikell on September 30, 2011 at 11:19am
Thank You so much, I will use this advice. I have a lot of planning to do! :)
Comment by sherriwilson on September 30, 2011 at 4:46am

MJ makes some great points! According to the research done by Kathleen Hoover Dempsey, parents need a couple of things to come to school. They need to feel welcome or invited and they need to feel like they have an important role to play. This doesn't happen overnight and it's not easy. Everyone in the building should have a role to play to ensure that families feel welcome.

One thing you can do is make sure you have a building that is family friendly. There are lots of organizations that do Family Friendly Walk Throughs, and if you have a PIRC that is still operational in your state, you can call them and ask them if they do that. The Walk Through process is an evaluation tool that identifies what barriers may exist that make parents feel like they aren't really welcome.

The second part is making sure that parents feel they have a role to play. This is typically more than just volunteering at random events. It also means making sure they understand how important their engagement is to their children's education. It is harder in middle school and high school when parents are often told "we don't need you anymore" or "it is time for your children to become more responsible". Often they didn't have anyone who stayed engaged in their own education so they don't even realize the role they can play. The entire school (faculty and administrators) need to make efforts to convince parents that the role they play is critical to their children's success.

For you immediate purposes, I would follow MJ's advice and use the personal appeal. To get volunteers to staff your event, personal invitations are typically the best way to get a response. Also, be sure to have everything ready for them when they get there. If they show up and are unsure of what to do or where to go, it's less likely they will be back. Finally, make sure you recognize all of their efforts often and in lots of ways. Thank them while they are there, post messages thanking your volunteers in the school newsletter, on the website, on the marquee outside and anywhere else you can think of. That will also help you recruit new volunteers for your next event, cause everyone likes to feel welcome!


Best of luck with your event! Let us know how it worked out!


Sherri Wilson,

Senior Manager of Family Engagement

National PTA

Comment by MJ Bolt on September 30, 2011 at 12:21am

I think the most important message you need to say to everyone is how important it is to have them, personally, at the table. Invite each person personally for now -- until you can grow more. Tell them a specific volunteer opportunity that you think they would be fabulous for and why. Make it heart felt. Middle School can be a bit tougher because parents often believe that old notion that somehow - they are not needed at the school anymore..... However, they are needed even more - it just looks different. Let everyone know what an opportunity it is for them to volunteer for it will give them a glimpse into their middle schooler's life - without seeming inappropriate. Make sure you have specific volunteer opportunities that aren't the "black hole" of volunteering. Chunk big jobs down into "bite-size" chunks or ask for teams of people to chair/co-chair events.... It's much more fun with a team!

Also - make sure you and your Board have clear goals for this year, and you as the volunteer coordinator have specific goals for your area. Probably reaching out and involving more people should be one of them. And then brainstorm on how best to do that! The more you talk "team" the more people really feel like a "team" and the more attractive it becomes to others. 

The other thing we did last year in middle school was that we had PTA meetings around what we thought would be most valuable information for parents. We held 3 general meetings. The first meeting our focus was on "Get the 411 on Middle School," where we had the counselor, the principal and the vice-principal all speak about specific topics. We geared it more towards 6th grade parents as they usually have a lot of questions since they are new and are usually the ones looking for the most answers. The 2nd one we geared more towards 7th grade parents - but also involved a internet safety program, with the help of local experts. The final one we geared more towards 8th grade parents and the transitioning of their students from Middle School to High School.  These are just ideas that worked very well for our school. But it started with the thought - "What do our parents need.... what information are they looking for" and then helping to facilitate that. Then of course - you have your regular business - and people usually love to see that they are needed!

Good luck!

Please feel free to email me if you need anything else.

Also check out some great middle school parent tips on



Comment by Angelia Mikell on September 29, 2011 at 10:39pm
I am the Volunteer coordinator at a middle school. I am having a hard time finding parents to volunteer for anything..Does anyone have any suggestions? We are having an open house on the 4th. We are also having our first general PTSA meeting that same day..I plan to speak that day and I am also going to have a table set up. Are there any tricks anyone can share with me that will get parents interested?

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