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San Diego State University

Center for Family, School, Community Engagement

Parent Involvement


National Network of Partnership Schools
The National Network of Partnership Schools guides school, district, and state leaders, and teams of educators, parents, and others to improve school, family, and community partnerships. Studies are being conducted on the structures and processes used to "scale up" programs of partnership to all schools in a district or state, and the results of these programs.

Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL) is a nonprofit education research, development, and dissemination organization based in Austin, Texas. Improving teaching and learning has been at the heart of SEDL's work for almost 50 years.


School, Family, and Community Partnerships: Your Handbook For Action by Joyce L. Epstein., et. al. This "user-friendly" handbook enables state, district, and school leaders to organize and implement positive and permanent programs of school, family, and community partnerships.

A New Wave of Evidence, The Impact of School Family and Community of Student Achievement Annual Synthesis 2002 by: Karen Mapp and Ann Henderson

Partners in Education A Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family–School Partnerships 2013 A publication of SEDL in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education. This paper presents a new framework for designing family engagement initiatives that build capacity among educators and families to partner with one
another around student success. The “Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family–School Partnerships” is designed to act as a scaffold for the development of family engagement strategies, policies, and programs.

Questions Parents Ask About Schools
This publication answers questions frequently asked by parents of elementary and middle-school-aged children who—like you—want to help their children learn and succeed. 

Joyce Epstein's Six Types of Parent Involvement
Joyce Epstein of Johns Hopkins University has developed a framework for defining six different types of parent involvement. This framework assists educators in developing school and family partnership programs. "There are many reasons for developing school, family, and community partnerships," she writes. "The main reason to create such partnerships is to help all youngsters succeed in school and in later life."

The information below defines the six types of involvement framework and lists sample practices or activities to describe the involvement more fully. Her work also describes the challenges inherent in fostering each type of parent involvement as well as the expected results of implementing them for students, parents, and teachers. The following information is excerpted from Epstein's work.

Epstein's 6 Types of Involvement Framework and Sample Practices

  1. PARENTING: Help all families establish home environments to support children as students
    • Parent education and other courses or training for parents (e.g., GED, college credit, family literacy).
    • Family support programs to assist families with health, nutrition, and other services.
    • Home visits at transition points to pre-school, elementary, middle, and high school.
  2. COMMUNICATING: Design effective forms of school-to-home and home-to-school communications about school programs and children's progress.
    • Conferences with every parent at least once a year.
    • Language translators to assist families as needed.
    • Regular schedule of useful notices, memos, phone calls, newsletters, and other communications.
  3. VOLUNTEERING: Recruit and organize parent help and support.
    • School and classroom volunteer program to help teachers, administrators, students, and other parents.
    • Parent room or family center for volunteer work, meetings, resources for families.
    • Annual postcard survey to identify all available talents, times, and locations of volunteers.
  4. LEARNING AT HOME: Provide information and ideas to families about how to help students at home with homework and other curriculum-related activities, decisions, and planning.
    • Information for families on skills required for students in all subjects at each grade.
    • Information on homework policies and how to monitor and discuss schoolwork at home.
    • Family participation in setting student goals each year and in planning for college or work.
  5. DECISION MAKING: Include parents in school decisions, developing parent leaders and representatives.
    • Active PTA/PTO or other parent organizations, advisory councils, or committees for parent leadership and participation.
    • Independent advocacy groups to lobby and work for school reform and improvements.
    • Networks to link all families with parent representatives.
  6. COLLABORATING WITH COMMUNITY: Identify and integrate resources and services from the community to strengthen school programs, family practices, and student learning and development.
    • Information for students and families on community health, cultural, recreational, social support, and other programs or services.
    • Information on community activities that link to learning skills and talents, including summer programs for students.
    • Service to the community by students, families, and schools (e.g. recycling, art, music, drama, and other activities for seniors or others).

What Can You Do To Get Involved

U.S. Department of Education: Tips and Resources—The Partnership
Parents, find useful tips in English and Spanish.

How Can I Be Involved In My Child's Education?

Research studies consistently reveal that high student achievement and self-esteem are closely related to positive parental participation in education. Parents and schools need to work together so all children can succeed in school.

Almost everyone agrees that parents are, after all, their children's first and most important teachers. You, as a parent, have important knowledge about your child's likes, dislikes, needs, and problems that the school may not be aware of. You may also have ideas for improving your child's school. But even though studies show that most parents want to be involved in their children's education, they may not be exactly sure how to go about it, especially if, like most parents, they work during the school day.

Parents often ask the following questions:

What Can I Do To Involve Myself With My Child's School?

Some schools value parent involvement by providing numerous opportunities for parents to interact with each other, with teachers, and with students. Your child's school can provide ideas on how to participate. One important way you can become involved in your child's schooling is to exercise any choices available in the selection of course work, programs, or even schools. Many schools are moving toward "school-based management," in which administrators share the responsibility for operating schools with teachers, students, parents, and community members. You can become involved in committees that govern your child's school or join the local parent-teacher association.

The National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education (NCPIE) believe that schools should regularly communicate with parents about their child's progress and the educational objectives of the school. This communication should also include non-custodial parents, stepparents, and any other adults, such as grandparents, who are responsible for the child. If you aren't receiving such information, ask for it. Work with other parents and guardians to be sure that the school understands how best to keep you informed.

Some schools send newsletters and calendars home regularly, alerting parents to school functions and ways they can participate. Encourage your school to provide volunteer opportunities for working parents and to schedule some school events outside of the school day to increase participation.

Here are other ideas:

  • Visit your child's classroom; a visit will give you an idea of what your child does at school and how he or she interacts with other children.
  • Volunteer to help in the classroom as an assistant (listening to children read, for example, or serving as an aide during computer work).
  • Support student events and performances by helping with them (such as sewing costumes or painting scenery for a school play) and by attending them.
  • If your school has a Parents' Room/Lounge or Parent Center, drop in to meet other parents and teachers there, or to pick up information and materials.
  • Participate in workshops that are offered, such as those on child development or concerns that parents have (or help plan such workshops).
  • Take advantage of parent-teacher contracts (perhaps agreeing to read with your child for a certain amount of time each night).
  • Ask your child's teacher if he or she has materials that you can use to help your child at home and to supplement homework.
  • Be part of decision-making committees about school issues and problems, such as a Parent Advisory Committee.

How Can I Help My Child With Homework?

Most teachers assign homework on a regular basis because practice is needed before children fully understand new skills or concepts. Homework also increases the amount of learning time available and allows students to do more in-depth learning.
Here are some general guidelines for helping with homework:
  • Reward progress; use lots of praise; display good work.
  • Find out how much and what type of homework is assigned in each class, how students are expected to prepare it and turn it in, and what students can do when they don't understand something; help your child manage the workload by dividing it into small doses.
  • Help your child develop a homework schedule that he or she can stick to.
  • Talk to your child each day about homework assignments; go over work; see if it's complete; ask questions about it. But don't do your child's homework yourself.
  • Provide a suitable place for study (if possible, make it quiet and away from the distractions of TV, phone, and loud music).
  • Avoid making homework a punishment.

How Can I Make Our Home a Good Place for My Child To Learn?

  • Have high expectations for your child's learning and behavior, both at home and at school.
  • Praise and encourage your child.
  • Emphasize effort and achievement, and be a role model for getting work done before play.
  • Establish rules and routines in the home.
  • Monitor television viewing.
  • Limit after-school jobs and activities.
  • Encourage your child to share information about school and respond with empathy.
  • If you don't do anything else, read to your young child or have him or her read to you every night. Encourage older children to read by reading yourself and by having interesting and appropriate materials available.

Helping Your Child With Homework (US Dept of Education) Your interest in your children's education can spark their enthusiasm and lead them to understand that learning can be rewarding and is well worth the effort.

What Should I Do If My Child Isn't Doing Well in School?

Contact your child's teacher. Don't wait for the school to contact you. It's important to resolve problems as soon as possible when they occur. When parents work with teachers, they are often able to improve a child's performance in school. Children also get the sense that education is really important when they see their parents involved with their teachers and their school.

Parents feel a sense of accomplishment, too, when they help their children succeed in school. Ask your child's teacher for specific activities you can do at home with your child and help the teacher better understand what works best with your child. Make it clear that if the teacher sees a problem developing, you want to hear about it immediately. Then, meet with your child's teacher frequently until the problem is resolved.

What If My Child Doesn't Like School?

Using your unique knowledge of your child, try to find out why he or she seems unhappy with school. Observe and listen to your child. The problem may not lie with school itself, but with peers or friends. It may also be a family problem or an issue of self- esteem. Arrange for a conference with the teacher or school counselor. Work toward being able to discuss problems with your child openly, and listen carefully to his or her views before you offer any solutions.

Children whose parents are involved in their education have better grades, a more positive attitude toward school, and more appropriate school behavior than those with less involved parents. So don't underestimate what YOU, as a parent, can contribute to your child's learning experiences, no matter how much education you yourself have. Getting involved in your child's education will make a difference.

Parental Involvement Resources and Organizations

National Parent Teacher Association (PTA): National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of parent involvement in schools.

PTA association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health, and welfare of children and youth.

California State PTA: Information about PTA in California.

The Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) operates 16 clearinghouses specializing in education topics. For information call 1-800-LET-ERIC (538-3742).

The Clearinghouse on Early Education and Parenting (ECAP) Collaborative is home to a number of projects that focus on educating and raising young children. ECAP hosts research, technical assistance, and service projects. They also provide publications and resources on early childhood and parenting communities.
ECAP is located at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Children's Research Center. For information call
217/333-1386 or 877/275-3227.


Most of the following references -- those identified with an ED or EJ number -- have been abstracted and are in the ERIC database. Documents with an ED number can be found on microfiche at more than 900 locations or ordered in paper copy from the ERIC Document Reproduction Service at 1-800-443-ERIC. The journal articles can be found at most research libraries. Call 1- 800-LET-ERIC for more details.

American Association of School Administrators (1988). Challenges for School Leaders.Arlington, VA. ED 300 915.
Granowsky, A. (1989). "Can I Guarantee My Child's Love of Learning?" PTA Today, 14 (4), p. 25. EJ 406 241.
National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education (1990). Developing Family/School Partnerships. Washington, D.C.
National Urban League, Inc. (1989). What Students Need to Know. New York. ED 316 636.
Peterson, D. (1989). Parent Involvement in the Educational Process. ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management. ED 312 776.
Seely, D. (1989). "A New Paradigm for Parent Involvement." Educational Leadership, 47 (2), 47-48. EJ 397 741.