Hold your first parent meeting at a fast-food restaurant.
Hold a math night with different math games provided..
Provide "Fact Cards" for parents with school name, address, phone number, name of principal, school secretary, school nurse, PTA president - perhaps a refrigerator magnet.
Establish "Take Home Tuesday" as day to send school papers home.
Send home tape recorded messages in parents' own language.
Hold a parent BBQ and have children share stories they have written
Remember "30-3-30" in writing school newsletters. Eighty percent of people will spend just 30 seconds reading it. Nineteen percent will spend three minutes. One percent will spend 30 minutes (your mother).
Celebrate the birthday of an author at school and ask parents to come and read the author's books to the class.
Write for parents at 4th to 6th grade level.
Try Brown Bag Seminars - parenting program at work site during lunch hour.
Ask parents to volunteer a skill they can share at school and teach the students.
Open the computer lab/library to parents for use outside of school hours. Offer classes to parents and let their child help teach them about the computer by being the “computer tutor”.
Remember the 3 "F"s for success - Food, Families, Fun.
Hold a reading night with parents bringing books to read with their child.
Host a game night at school and provide game centers for parents and children to rotate through during the night. Provide popcorn and a drink.
Use videotape to show busy parents their children in action.
Use refrigerator notes.
Encourage "Sunshine Calls," "Thinking of You" Calls.
Hold a holiday meal or dinner theater and have the students be the waiters. Students can make the food if appropriate, use table decorations made in art class and provide theater tickets to parents to attend..
Put up parent-friendly signs at school-directing them to the office.
Greet visiting parents as quickly as possible-perhaps use volunteers.
Have children's work on display all over the school - every child's work, not just the future commercial artists' work.
Have some place in the building that parents can call their own.
Try "Project Newborn" to contact future parents when new child is born.
Push for written school district policies on parent involvement.
Push for funding for parent involvement - it pays off.
Stress training for staff-all staff-in parent involvement.
Work for links with other social service agencies that can help parents.
Conduct school surveys to reveal family attitudes about your school.
Offer parenting classes.
Hold informal "drop in" coffee times and encourage parents to come.
Establish and use parent advisory groups.
Reach out to new families-again, use volunteers.
With parent volunteers: be supportive, be specific, be sensitive.
Insist that teachers not wait until its too late to give parents bad news.
Stress the importance of having an agenda for parent meetings.
Try a parents' Hall of Fame.
Publish a school calendar.
Hold several open house programs throughout the year - TryVisitation Days
Include student demonstrations at school meetings-not everything has to be a student "performance."
Provide child care.
Share with parents experiences you have had with your own children - it breaks down barriers, gets you out of your "role" and help parents see you as a fellow parent.
At parent group meetings, never ask parents questions where there can be wrong answers.
Recognize what parents are doing to help children - praise them.
Use simple evaluation forms to get parent feedback on every meeting or event.
Learn the tricks for dealing with angry parents-separate the parent from the argument he is making, use active listening, don't get angry, look for areas of agreement (We both want your child to do well), find a win-win solution, if necessary devise a temporary solution.
Develop a school handbook, and get parents' help in determining its contents.
Tap the vast parent resource pool every school has-parents who have lived overseas, who speak other languages, who have jobs that use skills schools are trying to teach children, who have hobbies that fit into the curriculum, etc.
Get Dads out with: Projects that call on Dad's special abilities (building, painting); feature male speakers; proclaim celebrations; offer incentives (raffles, etc.).
Try "quick notes" home - notes on the day something happens. A parent helps child with spelling test and child does better. Shoot an immediate note home to say, "It's working."
Take parents' pictures. Tell them in advance that pictures will be taken with their child, and prepare for a crowd.
Present a TV workshop for parents-how to control TV time.
Sponsor a "No TV Week" for your school and enlist parents' help in finding other activities for the whole family.
Try to provide interpreters and tell parents they will be there.
Investigate "telephone mail" systems.
Encourage teachers to assign homework that requires talking with someone at home.
Ask hostile parents for their advice on something.
Tell parents what teachers would like to tell parents if they had the chance-and ask parents what they would like to tell teachers. Then tell them!
Put up a Welcome sign in every language spoken by students and parents at your school-get parents to help get the words right.
Try an overnight read-in with parents, kids and local drop-in celebrities.
Create a video or slide show of what’s going on
Focus on the strengths of families: they know their children better than anyone else. Find ways to get that information to the right people.
Set up a parent center in your school stocked with resources to help parents.
Consider an in-service program for staff on single-parent families - staff can help provide information and it can be a real eye-opener.
Create lessons to do after students watch a good family movie with their parents. For example, using Disney movies, send home a copy of Cinderella for students and parents to read together. Then ask them to watch the movie and discuss the differences. Or examine Disney songs for theme, relation to plot, etc.
Consider learning contracts involving school, parent and child.
Work to encourage businesses to provide time for parents to attend school conferences.
Set up a lending library of at-home learning activities.
Remember that hard-to-reach parents can often be reached through their churches.