At any education industry conference across the country these days, you will find a strand on Family Engagement. Strands for schools, organizations and leaders to further understand and improve their ability to recruit and connect with parents. In addition, the larger objective for the engagement and development of the parents is to further the academic success of their children. But how many look to using students as ambassadors to family engagement? Let’s take a look at five ways our students can support this engine.
- Welcoming:Choose a few students to ‘dress to impress’ and stand at the entrance to the building. Perhaps they are handing out information to parents who enter. Maybe they are ushering parents to the session you have planned.
- Service: Imagine your middle school student standing with a tray serving drinks or cheese and crackers during an event at the school. Imagine him wearing a tie. Imagine him learning the importance of greeting, presentation, and service. This can happen before any parent session—or even at a ‘Breakfast with the Principal.’
- Personalized Invitations: You want parents to come to your school, get their kids to invite them! If I had the choice between a PTA meeting or watching my son sing a song about springtime, I’m going with springtime. If he created an invitation for his family on why we should be there, even better! Partner this hook with any information or enrichment you need to explore with the parents.
- Use Their Voice: Ask a few students join you in the main office and give them a list of parents to call to invite to the school. Write a script and rehearse it, so they feel confident and prepared. If your school or district has the 'auto-call’ where each parent receives the same informational message, record it using a student’s voice.
- Incentivize: Create a fun contest to encourage students to have their family and community members attend a school event. Connect your greater community with your prize selections: a family photo shoot from a local photographer, an afternoon at Chucky Cheese or other activity center, or a family day pass to the local YMCA.
Incorporating these strategies can increase your parent attendance and retention over time while also empowering the students to step into their leadership. It’s a chance for them to play a hand in shaping the community they are a part of. Let us know what works for you on Twitter @leadershippin or in the comments section below. We’d love to celebrate your best practices using students as ambassadors to family engagements and help you troubleshoot the challenges your community faces.
"Students as Ambassadors to Family Engagement", The Leadership Program, Inc. 2016