The power of partnerships with parents

The pandemic has changed so many things in our lives and has brought to light the many important aspects of education. Now, more than ever, parent involvement in their children’s education is imperative and schools have a perfect opportunity to develop impactful partnerships with parents.

For many years educators have talked about making sure parents are involved in their child’s education. Research suggests that parent involvement is impactful, but isn’t enough.  Instead, educators should aim for parent engagement. Schools implementing parent engagement activities can see higher grade point averages and test scores, better attendance, enrollment in more challenging courses, better social skills, and improved behavior of students (Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, 2002). Another powerful benefit of parent engagement is a more positive view of teachers, which typically translates into higher teacher morale and less discipline/behavior problems in the classroom (Waterford, n.d.).

What is the difference between involvement and engagement, you ask? In simple terms, the difference lies in the change of one work. Parent involvement suggests doing to, whereas parent engagement suggests doing with (Ferlazzo, 2011). Effective parent engagement strategies involve sincere relationship building, active listening, and working with parents as partners.

Waterford, a non-profit organization that “seeks to blend the best aspects of learning science, mentoring, mentoring relationships, and innovative technologies to form community, school and home programs that deliver excellence and equity for all learners,” organizes parent engagement strategies by the 3 Cs: Communication ~ Common Goals ~ Connections. 

During this strange new time, most of us are on the hunt for practical, doable, easy to implement tools.  The following chart organizes parent engagement tools using Waterford’s format of the 3 Cs.

Practical parent engagement tools:


Common Goals



Relationship Building Toolkit



Engaging Parent/Teacher Conferences


Engaging Newsletters

Parent Goal Updates

TIPS Interactive Homework How To

Parent Teacher Home Visits Model

Family Engagement During Distance Learning

TIPS Interactive Homework Samples


Edutopia Family Engagement Resource Roundup



Iowa Department of Education Family and Community Resources


Ferlazzo, L. (2011). Involvement or Engagement? 68(8). Retrieved from:

Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. (2002). A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family, and community connections on student achievement. Austin, Texas: Author.

Waterford. (n.d.)  3 ways to take parent engagement to meaningful parent partnership. Retrieved December 15, 2020, from