How to Embrace Two-Way Conversations in Your School-Parent Program

In a review of 29 studies of school-parent programs, family participation in education was twice as predictive of students academic success as family socioeconomic status. Some of the more intensive programs had effects that were 10 times greater than other factors.


Also, according to the same source, 86% of  the general public believes that support from parents is the most important way to improve schools. Understanding the effects of parent engagement programs on student success has many schools embracing parent engagement programs, however, not all parent engagement methods are alike, and some require more involvement from the parent than others.

In a recent Education Week article by teacher and author Kevin Mixon, he shares that too often educators use the “school-to-home-transmission” model, which only opens a one-way road for communication. In this model, teachers send newsletters and other information home and expect the parents to follow-through in the interest of their child.

However, this one-way model doesn’t allow for discussion or any interactions that will allow the teacher to better understand the student.

Educators who are looking to implement a parent engagement program can attempt a two-way model that allows the educator to contact the parent and the parent to contact the educator. Mixon shares a few tips he uses to make a phone call with the parent of an underserved student a two-way street:

  • Structure calls to allow for parent feedback
  • Include a “best time to call?”question along with requests for contact information, then call during evening hours or other times when parents are at home and more relaxed.
  • As with students, use “wait time,” active listening, and other strategies that foster productive discussion.
  • Keep a log to document contact but also to help remember details for future calls.

Mixon adds:

“In many environments with underserved students, we need to make our schools more home-like and homes more school-like to engage parents.”



“Making Parent Involvement a Two-Way Street,” by Kevin Mixon. 7 December 2011. Education Week Teacher. Accessed on 8 December 2011.

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