Groan. Roll eyes. I know you have a hard time getting people to show up for parent meetings.
That used to be me until I changed my perspective about what parents are up against and what it means to come alongside them in caring for their teenagers.
One day I came to the epiphany that I may want parents to come to my meetings and fill out my forms more than they do. It may not be that they don’t care about their child. They may have other things going on in their lives. Whether I thought they should be there or not, I had to come to grips with the reality parent meetings were important to me, so how did I get them in the room?
EXPECT THEM TO SHOW UP:
That was the first problem. I gave up before I began. I never asked when the best time for a meeting for parents would be. Then I had to over communicate when the meeting is and how you really want them there. I have a process that I go through that gets every parent to the table. I start with a letter home, a month out. Then I follow with an email (Follow up letter to those without email.) two weeks out, I might put a reminder on the parent’s wall on FB. A week out from the meeting the adult youth team and I start making phone calls. In this call we ask the question: “Will you be coming?” (This is key, it causes them make a decision). Finally, two days out from the meeting I use a mass texting program (joopz.com for example) and I send a final reminder. “Parent meeting tonight! Time/Place” I want them there, so I expect them to show up. Then I leave them without excuse for not “knowing” or making a way.
Can I Help You Get There?
Did I need to help get them a ride? Did I need to set up childcare for the meeting? What are the deeper reasons, that might be very practical beyond, “I’m too busy,” for a parent to not come? I will give you an example. We have one car. Just tonight we are supposed to be at a youth parent meeting. Well, my younger child has an after school lesson on the other side of the town. The parent meeting is at 5:00 pm…before dinner and in the middle of the lesson, before my husband is done at work. Practically, neither my husband nor I can get there. Not because we don’t want to. Instead, we really CAN’T.
Why Do I Want Them There?
I started to communicate clearly what the meeting was about and why it is vital that they are there. “Vision Casting,” in truth isn’t always what will get a parent out. They may feel “information” can be given over the phone. However, if I let them know that I need their help in growing their child, every parent wants that. Tell them crucial you NEED them there.
Want to get the “non-regular” involved parents…to be involved? Find creative ways to meet them and draw them in. Include dinner as part of the meeting night. Ask them to make their child’s favorite food. (If budget allows, offer to provide the ingredients!) Have a cook-off for the parents. You can do this so many ways-beans… chili…best mac and cheese. Have an Art Show or Talent Night- Require every student to DO SOMETHING…even if they say the Pledge of Allegiance. Every parent wants the opportunity to smile and say, “Hey that’s my kid!!!!”
Simply changing my approach changed EVERYTHING when it came to getting parents to come out to parent events.
What do you do?