4 Tips for School Leaders to Keep Families Involved in Their Student’s K-12 Online School Education
The role of school leaders has recently been expanding beyond the confines of physical school campuses. As an increasing number of students find online learning preferable to traditional classrooms, it’s safe to say that virtual learning is here to stay.
The rise of virtual learning during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a new era where many traditional classrooms are transforming into virtual and hybrid learning environments. With this shift, school leadership’s influence now extends into the digital space, helping to shape the experiences of students and families in new ways within their own homes.
In this article, we’re looking into a crucial aspect of this transformation—fostering and maintaining family involvement in K-12 online school education. The partnership between educators and families has grown particularly essential, as parents and guardians are now actively participating in their student’s virtual learning journey.
These four strategies will provide school leaders with new ideas to engage families and promote seamless communication and collaboration—bridging the divide between home and the classroom.
1. Foster Two-Way Communication
Establish clear lines of communication with families from the beginning to ensure they understand how to reach out to administrators and teachers for assistance on any queries or concerns that may arise.
Here are a few communication avenues that can be used for this purpose:
- Integrated online portals
- Social media platforms
- Family communication apps
It’s easy for parents to overlook even the most accessible means of getting in touch amidst the busyness of the academic calendar. So periodically reiterate what the channels are and how to access them throughout the year—not solely during the initial enrollment period or at the beginning of each new semester.
This keeps families practically plugged in, but it also establishes a pattern of consistent communication. Expand on those more straightforward communications with scheduled teacher visits, weekly or monthly school/classroom updates, and even small social events, such as a family coffee hour.
Use these pathways to proactively seek input and questions from parents in order to best meet their needs throughout the school year. This is particularly vital when students transition between educational levels, where expectations for family involvement and student performance may be changing. Furthermore, having that baseline of proactive communication becomes even more beneficial when potential concerns arise.
By establishing clear communication channels, frequent dialogues, and virtual meet-ups, leaders can bridge the digital gap and encourage meaningful connections between educators, students, and their families.
2. Invite Families into the Day-to-Day Learning
Parents have a bigger presence in at-home learning, and that added variable can end up working for or against you. Encouraging family involvement goes beyond checking grades and occasional parent-teacher conferences in a virtual setting.
As an educator, look for ways to incorporate family members and guardians into the actual moments of learning. Invite them to participate in virtual classroom sessions, curriculum discussions, and extracurricular activities that not only enrich the learning experience but also cultivate a shared sense of purpose and involvement with the family unit as a whole.
By actively promoting family involvement with these impactful gestures, the educational journey becomes a collaborative effort, with the goal of improving student motivation and overall success. Furthermore, such engagement empowers parents and guardians to better understand the nuances of virtual learning. This allows them to provide more effective support and guidance to their young students throughout their academic challenges.
Through this approach, school leaders pave the way for a united front, where students receive consistent support and encouragement from both their academic institutions and their families, ultimately shaping a well-rounded and fulfilling online learning journey.
3. Offer Resources for Additional At-Home Student Learning
Families often seek new ways to enhance their student’s at-home learning experiences but often struggle to find resources related to their specific issues when they need them.
One way to help support families in that goal/venture is by sending weekly (or monthly) newsletters with supplemental educational resources, such as:
- Book recommendations
- At-home activities related to your present curriculum
- Study guides and tips to practice before upcoming exams
- Educational videos
You can include school news and updates, upcoming events, and student or classroom achievements to make it a cohesive newsletter experience or save these communications as dedicated sends with the sole purpose of educational enrichment.
Showcasing your curated selection of online educational resources helps enrich families with new and valuable tools as they get comfortable with online learning. Plus, the resources themselves help in nurturing their students’ study skills and unique emerging talents. In tandem with newsletters, you can leverage social media platforms, like Facebook, to share relevant information on a continual basis. Such widely accessed platforms are convenient for family members browsing and checking their community groups for information and real-time updates.
Becoming an outlet to support families in securing a high-quality education for their students beyond the core curriculum will yield great benefits in keeping families engaged overall.
4. Cultivate a Sense of Belonging
Lastly, explore avenues for elevating family participation to a deeper level—transitioning from mere involvement to active engagement. This transformation includes fully integrating them as dedicated stakeholders in the school’s success, instilling a sense of pride and commitment.
To start, consider opportunities such as inviting families and guardians to join virtual advisory committees where they can help shape educational policies and actively support student recruitment efforts. Additionally, you can initiate a volunteer survey to encourage individuals to contribute their talents and time in various capacities throughout the school community. It could be as simple as participating in a virtual career day to help students connect the dots of the professional world or contributing to the school newsletter or other digital publications.
Other opportunities to encourage invested, remote involvement could include participating in online school forums or attending virtual open houses or interactive tours. Each of these options helps familiarize families with school activities in an inclusive and encouraging way to help facilitate consistent engagement.
By nurturing robust family participation and making everyone feel invested and part of the wider community, school leaders can pave the way for enhanced educational achievements and enduring, meaningful relationships with the families they serve.
Empower Families to Play an Active Role in Students’ Online Education
By fostering two-way communication, incorporating families into the learning journey, actively engaging families, and offering helpful resources throughout the year, school leaders can strengthen the collaborative educational journey for their K-12 online school and hybrid-learning students.
In addition to helping streamline the overall administration, documentation, and compliance unique to virtual learning environments, a platform like School Pathways can help facilitate effective communication with families through a student and family portal. From sending mass newsletters to offering comment access on specific assignments, School Pathways helps optimize the learning experience in an online setting.
Interested in learning more about School Pathways’ solutions?
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