Partnering With Families
A list of resources provided by the Virginia Department of Education and the Center for Family Involvement at the Partnership for People with Disabilities at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Parents are vital partners in their child’s education and life success. In 2009, a VDOE stakeholder group on parent involvement in public schools disseminated a questionnaire to over 1000 parents, teachers and school administrators across Virginia. Recipients were asked to share strategies schools have used successfully to partner with parents and families to improve student outcomes. Over 450 recipients responded, providing the tips and strategies in this booklet. Readers are encouraged to browse these tips and commit to trying several new strategies to support the involvement of parents and families in the education of their children.
Family Involvement Highlights from School Divisions
The following Virginia schools were recognized by the National PTA through their Schools of Excellence program for their work in implementing the PTA National Standards for Family-School Partnerships :
2015-2017 National PTA School of Excellence Award Recipients
- Byrd Elementary PTA in Goochland
- Cub Run Elementary PTA in Rockingham County
- Fair Oaks Elementary PTA in Henrico County
- Grassfield High School PTA in Chesapeake
- Hermitage High School PTA in Henrico County
- Montrose Elementary PTA in Henrico County
- Oak Knoll Middle School PTA in Hanover County
- Ward Elementary PTA in Henrico County
Utilizing grant funding from Successful Innovations, in 2014 Powell Valley Primary School in Wise County developed programming to promote the involvement of grandparents who are the primary caregivers for their grandchildren. Funding was used to present grandparent family nights, supply books to these families, as well as starting a grandparent support group at our school. This is an ongoing effort and continues to be relevant.
During the Family Involvement Month, Powell Valley Primary School hosted its annual STEM night. This included hands-on learning activities for families to enjoy with their students. Attendees were provided with a take-home kit that included science experiments and the materials necessary to complete them. During the month families are encouraged to visit the Parent Resource Center to learn about enrichment activities they can do at home during fall break.
Opportunities for families to become involved are provided on an ongoing basis by the schools’ family involvement coordinator who is available to parents before and after school to provide information and assistance as needed. Key strategies used to promote family involvement at Powell Valley Primary School include:
- Community outreach
- Family fun nights
- Parent Learning Opportunities/Workshops
- Title I Parents Encouraging Parents committee
- Grandparent events
- Countywide Title I parent committee
- Community book drive and book giveaway
Northumberland Middle School implemented parental involvement sessions for parents in 2014. Using the Preserving Safe and Stable family grant (PSSF) for funding, parents were invited to informational sessions featuring speakers on various topics where dinner was served as a part of the program.
Bristol Public Schools conducted a virtual scavenger hunt on their website for family involvement month. The fun activity was designed to give parents and students a better understanding of school services and get them acquainted with Bristol Public Schools website. Parents without internet access at home were invited to participate by visiting the Parent Resource Center as well as by phone. Free ice cream was offered to all students who turned in their completed their scavenger hunt form.
In Newport News Public Schools, the Family Engagement office hosted a district wide STEM event featuring hands-on STEM activities, design challenges, interpreters, snacks, and door prizes for Family Involvement Month.
Family Involvement Program Highlights for Special Education Families
Bristol Public Schools hosted a Dis(ability) Awareness Fair at the central office where all fifth graders, their teachers, parents, school administrators, special education services, and 3 other agencies participated in an hour and a half program that involved learning what it is like to have various disabilities. The fair was a huge success and they had about 200 people attend including the children. Activities included:
- Viewing of a video called, “I Am Tyler” highlighting the accomplishments of a young man with cerebral palsy.
- A guest who is blind brought in her dog and braille machine to teach children about reading without sight.
- A sign language teacher taught the children how to sign and talked about what it means to be deaf.
- Mini Miracles, provided staff to facilitate children activities involving fine motor skills.
- Children learned about mobility from Care Connections by experimenting with a wheelchair.
The Parent Resource Center for the Piedmont Regional Education Program (serving the Counties of Fluvanna, Greene, Albemarle, and Louisa as well as the City of Charlottesville) supported the implementation of the following Family Involvement Month activities:
Fluvanna County Schools Special Education Department hosted a Parent and School “Make and Take” workshop and dinner on at Fluvanna Middle School. The workshop gave parents of children using visual supports in school the opportunity to work with Autism and Behavior Specialists to create visual schedules and supports to use during time at home. For many children on the autism spectrum, visual supports are a very important part of the child’s day at school, and these supports can be equally as useful in the home environment. The Piedmont Regional Education Program’s Autism and Behavior team and the Parent Resource Center created and provided information and free visual support materials for parents to take home at the end evening. The workshop was a wonderful collaboration between parents and schools to create materials to help parents support their children at home and reinforce the learning systems their children use in school.
Charlottesville City Public Schools’ Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) hosted a Teacher/Parent Dialogue Dinner at Charlottesville High School. This dialog dinner was well attended by parents, Charlottesville City Schools (CCS) teaching staff, and CCS Special Education Department administration. This event gave everyone an opportunity to connect and better understand how to best serve the needs of students with special needs. Attendees enjoyed two informative presentations – the first by CCS Special Education Department and the second by a Charlottesville High School parent. Dinner was provided by a local restaurant and the PREP Parent Resource Center provided child care. This collaboration between schools and parents opened a dialogue that can lead to more open communications allowing everyone working together to better support all students.
Piedmont Regional Education Program’s Parent Resource Center held a regional parent in Charlottesville. This free event featured information sessions on Bullying Prevention, ADHD, Understanding Waivers, Visual Supports, Building Healthy Family Relationships, Sensory Integration, and Sensory Strategies for School. Local and regional resource fair participants shared information with parents about community resources available for families of children with disabilities or special needs. Surrounding school divisions, Charlottesville, Albemarle, Louisa, Fluvanna, and Greene helped to spread the word about the event to families in their division. This was a great opportunity for families to attend free information sessions, network with other families, and connect with community resources.