A Powerful Partnership – Parents & Counselors

Studies have found what schools have known for years, families play a vital role in educating America’s children. Numerous recent studies have found those children whose parents are actively involved in their education are more motivated and achieve higher grades.  It follows then that you partner with the parents of your students early on in the school year. Because you are a good counselor, encourage parental involvement and go to great lengths to foster this partnership. For this partnership to be successful, schools and parents need to work together, supporting the efforts of each other so children get more from school and achieve success. If you present yourself as a team player you’ll teach parents what to focus on at home… Communicate that the concept of supporting education is changing from the basics of helping with homework to greater involvement in schools. Today parents are volunteering in classrooms, chaperoning field trips, organizing parent committees and coordinating fundraising events.


By getting families involved, parents will learn about the quality of education their child is receiving, what they can do to boost their children’s success and bring about policy changes. Most parents are already having concerns about what activities their child is involved in and who is influencing their lives. However, they may not know how to get involved, take advantage of parent/teacher conferences, or just how much involvement is appropriate. The conference is a perfect opportunity to launch a partnership with your students’ parents that will function throughout the school year. To make the most of the time you have with your students’ parents schedule the conference early on, write down and take along with you a list of concerns and consult with their child’s teachers beforehand.  During the conference, you’ll get detailed feedback about your students so do your homework so that you are prepared! Briefly touch base with your students and their teachers by reviewing before the conference to better familiarize yourself with your students classroom experience.  The better prepared you are, the more productive the meeting will be. If you have a concern that doesn’t come up, don’t hesitate to ask the parent.  Be sure to ask for any relevant information that could be impacting your students’ progress such as divorce, new sibling or death in the family. Also, take notes and form a plan together to maximize your student’s education. At the end of the conference summarize the main points and what is the best way to reach the parents.


Here are some things to review that you need to cover to form an alliance with your students’ parents to get a complete picture of their educational experience:


What do parents do at home to enhance their child’s educational experience?


How students will be evaluated?


How is the student doing on standardized tests and what do they mean?


Answer is my child doing what is expected and performing up to potential?


Are there areas the student is struggling with? If so, how can parents help at home?


Does the student get along with peers?


Are they a member of a clique?


How are they coping with peer pressure?


Ask parents what their goals are?


How can I help my students achieve them?


The stakes are high; parental involvement makes high achievement possible. Beyond showing up for conferences and baking cupcakes there are strategies that will foster partnerships. Everyone involved shares a responsibility. Together, they give kids the desire to work harder and succeed. When parents, teachers and counselors communicate effectively, everyone benefits-especially the kids. Communicating consistently and effectively with everyone is a great way to get families involved. However some parents are intimidated by school personnel role as experts. When the reality is, parents are the expert when it comes to your students. When discussing your students, do not accept vague answers like, they are doing well. Ask for details. What are the goals for their kids, is college an option, if so, how are they preparing? What are the subjects kids are turned on by? What are their weaknesses? Will they be taking the SAT’s?   Show the parent you are a partner not an adversary. . Be open-minded and friendly. Let your student’s family know you are available and understand the importance of parental involvement. Keep in mind you‘re all working towards the same goal-the students successful and satisfying educational experience. Share these tips in a handout with parents to foster their involvement as well.