Parent Participation

“At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.”

– Jane Dee Hull, first female governor of Arizona

How Parent Participation Positively Affects Students’ Academic Achievements

First Teachers

A child’s education begins long before they enter a classroom – the epicenter of every child’s learning begins at home.

As their child’s first teacher, parents are integral to their children’s literacy, social-emotional skills, values, and character.

Your pivotal role as teacher continues after your child enters the formal education system. Numerous studies have proven that children’s academic achievement, future success, and well-being are heightened dramatically through the meaningful participation of parents in the school environment.

Essential to the magic of Mulberry is empowering parents as their child’s first and most important teacher. Meaningful parent participation imparts skills in supporting their child’s learning and that of all students. Parent engagement fosters a collaborative home-school environment, enhancing learning and development, cultivating a sense of community, and welcoming parents and caregivers as agents of change.

Importance of Relationships

Founded in 2003, the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child “recognizes the complementary responsibilities of family, community, workplace, and government to promote child well-being.”

In a 2009 study, the Council determined that healthy child development hinges on the quality and reliability of relationships with consequential people in and outside their family.

Search Institute is an organization that conducts and applies research promoting positive youth development.

In its extensive research, the Institute has identified 40 favorable internal and external experiences and qualities that influence children’s development. These essential Developmental Assets® are a roadmap to becoming caring, reliable, and productive adults.

Among those significant external childhood experiences is being surrounded and supported by people who love, care for, appreciate, and accept them. Healthy development depends upon the quality and reliability of a child’s relationships with important people in and outside their family.

Two essential elements of this Development Asset include:

  • Parent Involvement in Schooling: Parent(s) are actively involved in helping their children succeed in school.
  • Caring School Climate: The school provides a caring, encouraging environment.

Meaningful parent participation is essential for children to feel safe enough to try different roles and develop self-confidence and a sense of worth.

But what type of participation has the most impact?

Involvement vs Engagement

More than fifty independent research studies indicate a strong connection between family engagement and student academic achievement.

These studies have also highlighted the difference between involvement in your children’s education versus being deeply engaged. Parental involvement is beneficial, but engagement reaps incredible long-term rewards.

Often used interchangeably, the distinction between involvement and engagement is paramount to parents being critical stakeholders in their child’s education. So, what’s the difference?

Parental involvement is predetermined by the school. Examples include:

  • Specific volunteering opportunities
  • Parent-teacher conferences and other prearranged communications
  • Serving as chaperones at school events

Engagement is a partnership in learning between parents and teachers. It encourages an atmosphere where families and educators are equally committed to helping students reach their academic and developmental objectives through:

  • Creating a collaborative partnership between home and school
  • Empowering families to participate actively
  • Fostering a perspective of students as whole individuals
  • Parents sharing insights about their child, with emphasis on social-emotional needs
  • Supporting diverse life experiences and backgrounds
  • Development of ongoing parenting skills
  • Creating a sense of community
  • The advocation of improved educational climate and programs

As an outgrowth of parental engagement, teachers gain a well-rounded understanding of who students are as unique individuals and design a curriculum centered around those characteristics.

Parental Engagement at Mulberry

Parental engagement is at the heart of all we do at Mulberry. Parents participate at all levels, expanding the capability of teachers to form meaningful connections with their students. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to serve on committees as well as on the Board, ensuring that Mulberry continues to evolve as an academic environment and a member of the larger community.

“Student engagement is benefited by parent engagement, which also supports teacher’s ability to focus on student learning, and to “see” each student and partner with families for the most positive outcomes,” explains Kara Riordan, Head of School at Mulberry since 2013.

The early years are crucial to a child’s development. As the old saying goes, it takes a village that’s invested. To be able to meet the physical, social, and emotional needs of young children, adults must be available in a timely manner. In preschool, having parent participants means more hands, more eyes, and more ears; children’s needs are more likely to be addressed when more adults are present. Parents in the classroom create the valuable connection of home and school.

Parents are KEY in supporting teaching. Parents participate by driving and chaperoning  on field trips, taking on classroom jobs to support various elements of the curriculum, typing student stories for publishing, reading one-on-one, or supporting “book clubs.”

By running a teacher-designed center or station, parents help facilitate small group, personalized learning opportunities for students in math, science, global studies, arts, and sciences. Students circulate through the teacher’s center, the classroom aide’s center, and the parent volunteer(s) center allowing 3-4 students at each learning center.

Engaged caregivers are vital in supporting library time, garden time, recess, and lunch.

As classroom representatives, parents serve as liaisons between the teacher and other parents and caregivers in each classroom.

Mulberry’s parent leadership body, the Parent Assembly Council (PAC), coordinates with the administration for community building, welcoming and mentoring new families, creating community events, play dates, parent activities, and service learning projects. PAC are highly engaged individuals who get things done!

A parent’s unique hobbies or expertise can enhance student learning. At Mulberry, we’ve had parents lead special interest extensions including:

  • Planting/beautifying classroom-raised garden beds
  • Small groups for cooking projects
  • Supporting sewing stations and textiles/handwork
  •  A parent duo that led a soccer session

Parents support a variety of community-building activities, both in the classroom and on a school-wide level. New families are welcomed by class representatives, and members of our PAC – child-centered play dates before school begins to kick off our focus on community welcome. Parents serve as integral members of committees and on the Board. “Parents are a vital constituency of Mulberry School, supporting all aspects of the school and each other,” states Kara.

“What a gift to be able to participate in the classroom, to support the amazing faculty in their endeavor to meet every child where they are, and to see my own kiddos blossom. I am grateful to be able to experience education this intimately.”

The research is clear: The earlier parents and caregivers become deeply engaged in their child’s academic environment, the more significant the impact on their child’s development and academic success.

Learn more about Parent Participation

Private School Los Gatos

“Parent Participation has been an integral part of Mulberry for over 55 years. Our parents and families bring such gifts to our community.”

– Jane Murphy, Former Assistant Head of School –