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Chicago Principals Share Parent Engagement Ideas

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A new "best practices" booklet produced by Chicago Public School principals gives ideas about how they have successfully engaged parents in the education of their children.

Recently released by Chicago Public Schools, the booklet identifies 26 ways principals are making their schools enticing and attractive—if not downright irresistible—to parents.

Among the highlights:

  • Multimedia event: At Ross Elementary School, parent-teacher conferences are a multimedia event. Students lead the parent-teacher conference, showing parents why the students earned the grade they did on a specific assignment. Parents pick up their students' report cards then respond to their students with a letter or by recording a video that students will see later.

  • Adding a theme: The principal at Cragin Elementary School, hosted a "Rodeo Roundup" themed event to kick off the parent-teacher conferences. Students performed an appropriate dance; parents picked up report cards, then got a raffle ticket for a horseback ride on the school lawn. More raffle prizes were donated throughout the evening.

  • Making it a campaign: The principal at Irma C. Ruiz School has had 100 percent attendance for 26 consecutive report card pickups by coming at the challenge of participation with a variety of strategies—including permission for other family members to attend, rather than just the students' parents.

This is Chicago's latest effort to encourage more attendees to parent-teacher conferences. Earlier this month, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a plan to give a $25 "Balance Rewards" card to Walgreen's for every parent who picks up his or her child's report card at 70 Chicago public schools that register chronically low parent involvement for this activity.

See if your school is using strategies from Engaging Parents: Effective Practices from Chicago Principals.

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