Engaging Families: Alternatives to In-School Events

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Hosting in-person events at school can help families feel welcome. As we shared in our blog post, How Increasing Family Engagement has Impacted Our Partnering Schools,” we know it works! However, showing up can be hard for families when they have so many competing commitments. Nothing is worse than planning a huge, fun event and then seeing only a smattering of people attend. It can feel defeating. 

Cate Reed, seasoned administrator, current Senior Vice President of Teach For America, and Possip Reporter, explores ways to engage families beyond in-school gatherings.

We all know that life happens. Many families have kids in multiple schools. Families work hours that conflict with when events are often held. It can be hard to find childcare or transportation in off-hours. Even parents have difficulty attending parent-teacher conferences when they conflict with extracurriculars or work obligations. All of these things can lead to schools feeling frustrated when it comes to offering ways to bring families together. 

However, it doesn’t need to be that way! Here are a few creative ways to get families involved without having to set up a table in the lobby and provide name tags and punch:

Learn what events interest your families

Use a Possip bonus question to get a sense of what families find most valuable when it comes to getting involved. Conferences? Social events? Homework help? Fundraisers? Where do they want to spend time with other families and staff, and where do they gather that maybe isn’t in school? At a local park? Library? Community center?  

Strive to meet the needs of families and not just drive up numbers. The more you know about what people really want and need, the more you can tailor your ideas to them and ensure you are not wasting your time. For more ideas about finding out what works and what doesn’t work for your families, check out this Possip article: Better Questions to Increase Family Turnout.”