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10 Partnering Tips for a Strong School Community

Principals and Parents Working Together

Developed by National PTA with the help of parents and principals, these tips are part of an overall strategy for building relationships with principals to improve student achievement. This effort to encourage the principal-parent connection has been made possible by a grant from the MetLife Foundation.

We know that the main reason people join PTA is to gain access to the organized, high quality parent involvement opportunities that will help their children achieve in school. This list is one National PTA resource you can keep and refer to as you bridge the gap between home and school, initiating conversations and implementing programs or events that will enrich the learning experiences of your school’s children.

These tips are based on the six National Standards for Family-School Partnerships developed by PTA:

  1. A principal can host a “welcome” night where all the parents are invited to the school and the principal gives an opening address, establishes basic expectations for the year, and invites parents to ask questions. Provide a form on which parents can write their contact information, best times to contact them, and preferred methods of communication. The principal can provide the same information to parents.

  2. Parents can establish PTAs that are inclusive and representative of the school community’s cultures, family structures (single parent, blended, etc.), and abilities. (Invite the principal to become a member.) PTAs must value and embrace all parents and caregivers in order to implement successful school programs.

  3. Principal-parent dialogue is key to student success.
  4. Invite the principal to take part in developing the PTA’s plan of work. The principal can work with the PTA to set goals for their collaboration for the year.

  5. Make the principal-parent dialogue visible. Invite the principal to write an article for the PTA newsletter or listserv. Ask him or her to host coffees or “chats with the principal,” inviting bilingual parents to translate as necessary.

  6. Network with community establishments (hospitals, community centers, banks, libraries) to get free services or informational sessions for the school. Before moving ahead, a PTA might ask the principal for a list of priorities regarding services for the school and its families.

  7. Invite community groups and youth-serving organizations to school shows, sporting events, and showcases of service-learning projects, thus publicizing what the students have accomplished. Ask these groups how you can work toward shared goals in support of the school.

  8. Carry out fundraisers tied to specific goals relevant to the whole school community. Examples of such PTA fundraising goals might include campus beautification, providing school playing fields, or underwriting classroom field trips.

  9. Nominate the school or principal for awards, including parents in the recognition process.

  10. Encourage two-way messaging. Establish a principal approved voice-mail system in which teachers regularly leave two minute voice-mail messages for parents about the classroom curriculum, and parents can leave messages for teachers as they strive to support their children’s homework and study habits.

  11. Promote health and nutrition. Form a task force of parents, the school principal, and pertinent school district staff to examine the school lunch program. (This refers to schools not participating in the federal school lunch program.) Look at the time allotted for lunch; the food options available; and the accessibility, pricing, and placement of healthy foods. Make recommendations for change if necessary.