Parent Engagement in School Health

Many studies show the positive link between parent involvement in children's school lives and better student behavior, higher academic achievement and enhanced social skills. This is called parent engagement, which  makes it more likely that children and adolescents will avoid unhealthy behaviors such as poor nutrition and physical inactivity, unsafe sexual behaviors, tobacco, alcohol and other drug use. 

Involving parents in school life benefits students and enhances the sustainability of the many school-based practices designed to support student health. It is a shared responsibility between parents, school administrators and teachers and supportive community organizations.  This requires effort, planning and effective strategies.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's model for parent engagement offers comprehensive strategies within its three components: Connect, Engage and Sustain. The use of these strategies is often overlapping, repetitive, non-linear and specific to the school.

Connecting with parents involves interactions between the parent and the educator, and environmental supports that leave parents feeling welcome. 

Engagement involves strategies that help parents become and feel involved in their child's school-life. To successfully include parents, schools need a plan that addresses these concerns:

  1. Connect with parents
  2. Provide parenting support and education
  3. Communicate with parents by using many formats such as text messages, flyers, email, apps
  4. Offer a variety of volunteer opportunities
  5. Help parents support their child's learning at home
  6. Present opportunities for parents to be part of decision making in schools
  7. Collaborate with community organizations to build trust and enhance available resources
  8. Sustain your connections by overcoming the challenges that interfere with communication or interaction with parents.

For more details:

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Parent Engagement: Strategies for Involving Parents in School Health Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; 2012.
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