Welcoming all families is the first standard in the National PTA Standards for Family School Partnerships. While it’s no more important than any of the other standards, it’s certainly one of my favorites!
Standard 1: Welcoming All Families is achieved when all families are active participants in the life of the school. They feel welcomed, valued, and connected to each other, to school staff, and to what students are learning and doing in class. This standard has two goals: to create a welcoming climate and to build a respectful, inclusive school community.
Creating a welcoming school climate is critical to help families become more involved at school. When families enter the building, they should feel at home. Consider placing signs in highly visible entryways that say, “Welcome! We’re glad you’re here.” Make sure the signs are in all the languages families at your school speak.
Create opportunities for families to come and build relationships with teachers and school staff and volunteer to support the school. Trusting respectful relationships are the key to helping families feel like they are part of the school community!
Work with the school to help identify the barriers that prevent all families from participating and then break those barriers down! Some families have language or transportation barriers that might prevent them from coming to school. You can work with other community agencies to arrange childcare, translation, and even transportation (which falls under Standard 6: Collaborating with the Community!).
Build a respectful, inclusive school community. It’s not only the right thing to do – it’s also a wonderful way to strengthen your school community by ensuring a rich diversity of perspectives. You can build a more respectful, inclusive school community by working with the school to identify any barriers. Make sure that any programs, events, or activities at the school are low-cost or free. Also, try to schedule activities at convenient times and places. You don’t have to have them all in the school building. Consider using local parks or libraries near where families live. Plan programs, events, or activities that the entire family can attend and enjoy!
For more information on all of the National Standards for Family School Partnerships check out our website.
ENGAGE! is a weekly column on Family Engagement written by Sherri Wilson, Senior Manager of Family and Community Engagement at the National PTA. Sherri is the former Director of the Alabama Parent Information and Resource Center and is currently responsible for developing and implementing programs related to family and community engagement at the National PTA.