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Parent Involvement Versus Parent Engagement

Updated: Sep 13, 2019

Parent engagement in schools is different from parent involvement, though both are useful. Parent involvement is when parents participate in school events or activities, and teachers provide learning resources or information about their student’s grades. Unlike in parent engagement, teachers hold the primary responsibility to set educational goals. They relate to parents not as a partner but an advisor who guides them through academic support for their child.


Scholarly articles suggest that parent engagement is parents and teachers sharing a responsibility to help their children learn and meet educational goals. Parent engagement happens when teachers involve parents in school meetings or events, and parents volunteer their support at home and at school. In this way, they make a commitment. Parents commit to prioritizing their child’s educational goals, and teachers commit to listening and providing a space for collaboration with parents.


It helps to think of parent involvement as the first step to parent engagement. While teachers can advise parents on some things, parents also have important information about their child that teachers might not know. Both can bring perspectives to the table that enrich a student’s learning experience. Schools that encourage parent involvement tell parents how they can participate in the school community whereas schools working towards parent engagement gain an understanding of their school communities’ values.


Parental involvement and engagement in education matters now more than ever because it’s in decline. Recent studies display a significant decline in parents who believe that intimate parent-teacher communication is effective. Parents now prefer remote methods of communication, like online student portals, and they are less likely to attend parent-teacher conferences or school activities.


Some groups, however, are more at-risk for low parent engagement. Parent involvement is lowest in families below the poverty line or with older children, as well as parents who do not speak the area’s primary language or did not graduate high school. Scholars suggest that many low-income or minority families feel that the staff makes them uncomfortable or shows a lack of cultural awareness. If a school community-teacher relationship wasn’t established early in the year, parents also may not know whether they’re welcome at school.


IINII uses a revolutionary Design Thinking process to help your school community gain an understanding of one’s sense of self, as well as developing an understanding of students’ and parents’ values; having an understanding of one’s values matters because research has shown that it is linked to better well-being, less stress, and increased confidence in one’s ability to succeed.


Understanding students’ values can be developed with culturally sustaining practices that reflect a student’s identity and experience. Particularly helpful is focusing efforts on cultural competence and relevance and providing opportunities for students to practice bridging differences between diverse identities in a safe environment. To learn how you can create a dynamic youth-centered environment that honors the unique values of your students and parents, visit our website at www.iinii.org, or contact us at iinii@iinii.org or 1800-507-2502.



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