Family Engagement: Four Great Ways to Get Involved

To ensure our nation’s students reach their full potential, parents must be fully engaged participants in their children’s education. Last week, ED held a family engagement forum that featured Michelle Kibbles a parent involvement coordinator who led effective family engagement efforts in the diverse Beaumont, Texas Independent School District. The forum also included Hillsborough County, Florida PTA President Melissa Erikson, as well as North Carolina PTA Parent Involvement Initiative administrators Debra Horton, Kim Shaffer, and Ashley Perkinson. These PTA leaders have fostered unprecedented growth in family involvement at both the local and state levels. Below are just a few of their successful strategies for parents and guardians.

  1. Build meaningful and collaborative relationships with teachers and principals.
  2. Many school districts hold special events to foster these relationships. If your child is having a problem in school, having a solid rapport with your child’s teacher may make it easier to work together on a solution.

  3. Be a part of your child’s support system by extending his or her classroom experience to your home.
  4. Ask teachers about your child’s course of study, the teacher’s expectations, and the school’s academic standards. By doing so, you will be prepared to help your child with his or her homework and ensure that your assistance supplements what your child learned at school.

  5. Talk to or join your local PTA.
  6. These organizations serve as a conduit between parents and teachers and have district-specific initiatives to improve communication. For example, the North Carolina PTA organized a home visit program in which PTA members organized and mediated meetings in parents’ homes that included parents, teachers, and students. Becoming active in your local PTA may help ensure your interests are represented at the district or state level.

  7. Become a leader in your community.
  8. Many school districts or PTAs offer leadership programs designed to prepare parents to be effective advocates for the community’s children. These programs also provide valuable resources for parents who foster communication between teachers, other parents, and public officials.

The next briefing in the family engagement series will be on September 29 at ED headquarters.  The panel will be composed of a grandparent, a parent of a child with special health care needs, and a parent of an armed service member.

Ben Firke and Sam Barnett are interns in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the Department of Education


  1. These learning seminars should never be held without the equal attendance of very low to low-income parents from the DC Area. What are you scared of?

  2. Genuine family and community engagement can never happen until a quantum number of parents from the very low to low-income class become involved on a parity basis. To assist or facilitate this process, resources need to be directed at family development organizations and faith-based groups that work jointly together or even independently in mobilizing parents who reside at public housing projects. African American and other inner city churches who focus on the teen pregnancy problem and who are pro-life but counsel for foster care or grandparent adoption need to be involved. Essentially, a paramount goal is being made for new players in the whole forum of how to ignite and revitalize the family and community engagement agenda. Ed’s Office of Communication and Outreach along with the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships needs to get busy! Also, an evaulation needs to be done of what they’ve accomplished or achieved in the first three years of the Obama Administration?

    • can we attend the conference, I belive it would be to my advantage to learn all i can to continue to help my parents, Thanking you in advance for your cooperation in this matter.

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