When searching for a private school, parents should consider more than just what the school has to offer their child. It is also important to look for a sense of community that includes both students and parents. Consider how parent involvement is encouraged and appreciated. While personal circumstances dictate the degree to which adults can share their time and talents, a recent study found numerous benefits to students when their parents had meaningful involvement in the school. These findings include the following:
- When parents are involved, students achieve more, regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnic/racial background, or the parents' education level.
- Schools that work well with families have better teacher morale and higher ratings of teachers by parents.
- School programs that involve parents outperform identical programs without parent and family involvement.
An exceptional school understands that building a strong parent partnership improves the quality of the child’s educational experience. When selecting a private school, look for activities that promote parent involvement in the following ways:
- Personal Growth: Many private schools offer speakers, book clubs and workshops that strengthen parenting and personal skills. Recently, Sanford School’s Home and School Association hosted speakers to address parents on such topics as social media trends, substance abuse, balancing family and personal needs, and mindfulness. Recently, the Home and School Association partnered with the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware to assemble over 100 meal kits that will be given to families when utilizing patient care at A.I. duPont Hospital for Children to help support the community.
- Volunteer Opportunities: When teachers request assistance in the classroom, parents can help faculty accomplish more, provide 1:1 opportunities or carry out larger events. Parents can also serve as grade-level parents, hosting parties for special occasions and providing communications and interaction among parents.
- Social Interaction: Parents are encouraged to know one another. This occurs through school and parents-association sponsored social events. Activities can include grade-level parent parties, coffees or school-wide adults-only events. These create opportunities to interact in a relaxed situation and ignite a social component among families. Benefits include easing concerns over play dates for younger families, communications over social activities, and driving as students become older.
- Fundraising: Fundraising by parents can directly improve the program and facilities at private schools. This is often not true in other settings. Events such as auctions, golf events and trivia nights raise funds that fulfill unique needs at the school. They also strengthen parent relationships, serving as “friend-raisers” as well as fundraisers.
At Sanford School, we believe that building a strong sense of community is one key to student success. Often family involvement goes beyond parents. in addition to parent involvement, days are set aside for grandparents and other special guests to visit the school and interact with their students in the classroom. Numerous grandparents volunteer at the school and also feel a part of the greater school community. Faculty and administrators work to develop appropriate venues for interaction in the classroom and between parents to occur. Confidence in their parenting skills and membership in a larger community are proven to be a benefit to children and their parent’s own sense of well-being. Experience Sanford by attending an Open House.
Janice Payne is the Director of Development at Sanford School in Hockessin, Delaware.