Increasing Parent Engagement Will Secure Your Child a Better Future

When we’re discussing parent engagement, we’re talking about efforts made by parents which directly contribute to a child’s success in school and subsequently, in life. It’s an idea based on the collaboration between parents and school staff with the goal of improving the development of children.

The idea itself is not very new. We’ve known for over 120 years that parents and teachers should work together and the rich history of the National Parent Teacher Association is the proof of that. However, the relationship in that alliance has evolved significantly in the last couple of decades and the positive effects of parent engagement are duly recognized in the scientific community.

How Does It Benefit Your Child?

Research has shown that engaging parents in their child’s education can be very valuable for the child in more ways than one. Numerous studies support the thesis that parent engagement increases academic achievement through improved school attendance, higher grades, and better test scores. This effect is produced by a number of factors, which include setting high expectations, developing useful routines and habits, creating an environment that encourages learning, building a warm and cooperative home setting, and actively supporting the child   All of these factors also contribute to the parent as a strong role model.

But parent engagement affects child development beyond these school-defined conditions and it can also help build desirable character traits. Having engaged parents can inspire more positive attitudes towards particular subjects and reduce the risk of children getting involved with substance abuse and problematic behavior. Lastly, it increases confidence and helps children become more well-adjusted.

Types of Parent Engagement

A great way for differentiating between different types of parent engagement is through the use of Dr. Joyce Epstein’s Framework. She recognizes six types of parental involvement:

  1. Parenting – establishing a proper home environment that provides the child with optimal learning conditions
  2. Communicating – creating effective, two-way channels of communication between parents and the school staff
  3. Volunteering – engaging parents in volunteering practices to help with school-related activities
  4. Learning at home – providing parents with helpful information which empowers them to take part in and contribute to home-learning activities
  5. Decision making – including parents in school-related decisions and providing them with a forum to express their opinions
  6. Collaborating with community – utilizing community resources to improve school practices and student learning

Since parent engagement is a team effort, both the parents and the school bear the responsibility of taking an active approach. There is plenty that can be done on each side of the partnership, but the primary condition is acting in good faith while acknowledging the importance these activities will have on child development.

What Can Teachers Do?

The school normally reaches out to the parents and establishes channels of communication, but that doesn’t mean it always should. The teacher’s role in parent engagement is consultative but with high demands for taking initiative. They should actively partake in all of the 6 types of parent engagement because their expertise is invaluable in these situations.

Building strong and personal relationships around mutual goals are key for making all other attempts impactful and efficient. If you succeed to make this the foundation, you can build on it by consulting or educating parents. Invite them to learn more about what’s going on at school and give them a chance to influence the decisions that are being made. The parents will also be more open to engaging in school activities and volunteering if they are better acquainted with you and your goals. Finally, try to build the momentum of cooperative spirit by including the community’s resources to improve the learning experiences of children.

What Can Parents Do?

Any activity a parent engages in with a goal of improving their child’s education is a valid topic for discussion with teachers, including some of the other members of the school staff. So whatever you do, try to make an effort to seek out and utilize their council. They’re experienced in education, well-acquainted with your child’s situation and might have some insights about your child’s behavior you aren’t aware of.

One of the suggestions for parents is todevelop the right environment for their children. Children will spend a vast majority of their time at home. But just because they’re not at school doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be learning. At home with our kids, we can provide them with a relaxed and informal way of getting to know the world  and its intricacies. There are many ways in which you can create a great learning environment at home.

Parents should also work on communicating with their children. Start by simply talking more often and work your way up the ladder. You can even create daily routines that will allow you an opportunity to talk to one another or adjust the existing ones where talking won’t distract you from what you’re doing. Chores and mealtimes are a great place to start. Be sure to show interest in their activities and praise effort over results.

What’s Stopping You from Being More Engaged in Your Child’s Education?

A  parent’s greatest joy is to see their child grow and learn. We want them to be confident, responsible and develop habits for being productive in the workplace of tomorrow. Most of us are aware that we can contribute to our child’s education, yet we’re not always choosing to do so. Is it that we’re too tired from working all day and we can’t focus because our energy levels are running low? Or is it that we think they’ll be better off if they do it all by themselves? It’s an interesting question to ask, and it is one that can shed light on what we prioritize over our child’s education.

Studies show our engagement can improve our child’s chances of success but how engaged should we get? The answer may change based on a given situation, but parent engagement certainly needs to be a balanced effort. Your best bet is probably staying somewhere in the middle, trying not to fall into the trap of being too careless with your child, but still allowing them room to grow and explore.

AuthorBio: Mark is a biz-dev hero at Invoicebus – a simple invoicing service that gets your invoices paid faster. He passionately blogs on topics that help small biz owners succeed in their business. He is also a lifelong learner who practices mindfulness and enjoys long walks in nature more than anything else.

The Literacy Cooperative’s 2019 2Gen Summit

Energetic conversations filled the room Friday, May 24th, as The Literacy Cooperative hosted the 2nd Annual 2Gen Summit to support whole family literacy.

The 2Gen approach to literacy aligns and coordinates services for children, parents, and caregivers because research continually shows that a parent’s education level dramatically affects the educational success of their children. This method considers the lives of the adult and the child together to focus on the family as a unit as opposed to viewing the family as numerous individual service units.

Two-generation approaches focus on creating opportunities for and addressing needs of both children and the adults in their lives together. The approach recognizes that families come in all different shapes and sizes and that families define themselves.

The Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute writes: “Two-generation approaches focus on creating opportunities for and addressing needs of both children and the adults in their lives together. The approach recognizes that families come in all different shapes and sizes and that families define themselves.”

Attendees networked with one another as Bob Paponetti, President and CEO of The Literacy Cooperative took the stage to introduce the 2Gen Community Call to Action to Address Our Economic and Social Gaps.

The Summit is part of a long-term Community Action Plan to involve organizations to commit to improving the landscape of economic and social inequalities through four steps: involving parents and family members to be a part of the planning process, expanding inter-agency knowledge among service providers, implementing formal referral strategies and shared databases among organizations and incubating a 2Gen programming pilot and tracking results, scalability and sustainability.

Robbie Lynn Lawrence-Willis, Director of Little Achiever’s Learning Center, Beatrice Patterson, CDA parent, student, and PRN staff at Catholic Charities, Linda Schettler, Director of the Early Learning Program for Catholic Charities, Qianna Tidmore, Manager of Universal Pre-Kindergarten for Cuyahoga County’s Invest in Children, and Alyssa Swiatek, Family Engagement Manager for Cuyahoga County’s Invest in Children, began the event with a poignant discussion of how providers can be 2Gen even when focusing mostly on early or adult literacy.

Swiatek is tasked with implementing 2Gen approach in Cuyahoga County, using the Aspen Institute’s model. More information can be found here.

Kenneth Hale, Director of Access and Community Engagement for Tri-C spoke with consumer educator Michael Lisman of Lisman Capitol LLC about Tri-C’s Saturday Family Academy. This is a “free, non-credit course designed to promote education, empowerment and success to the entire family.” Here, diverse families can participate in age-specific programming before gathering together at the end to discuss what they have learned.

The course is six weeks long, and the next semester begins this fall.

Michael Lisman (left) and Kenneth Hale (right)

Towards Employment’s Senior Project Manager Grace Heffernan and Senior Manager of Advancement Staci Wampler spotlighted their partnership in the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s MOVE UP program. With the foundation’s help, TE trains and places economically disadvantaged workers into Cleveland’s three biggest health systems. These workers make an average of $2 more than Ohio’s minimum wage ($8.55 per hour), and nearly a third of the class of 2017 has already advanced in their careers.

“It’s creating opportunities where they [clients] already are,” said Wampler.

When a caregiver has a stable income and lifestyle, not only will he or she directly benefit – but so will his or her children. 30% of students at community colleges are parents or caregivers who must balance work and childcare demands with school. Millions of children in childcare centers are there because caregivers or parents are working hard to improve their family’s economic security. But, children who have money saved in a college account are more likely to enroll in and graduate from college – even if the account has under $500 in it.

Goals and outcomes should be focused on both the child and the caregiver and must be embedded in policy to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

Christie Manning, Senior Program Officer for St. Luke’s Foundation, Adrienne Mundorf, Senior Program Director for the Sisters of Charity Foundation, Courtney Robinson, Manager of Education and Workforce Readiness for United Way of Greater Cleveland, and Emily Thome, Vice President of Third Federal Foundation closed out the event with a discussion from a foundation’s view. Funders look for organizations with sustainable business models, deliverable impact and a clear mission.

Attendees placed a note on where their work fell on the 2Gen Continuum.

NEO funders are very supportive of 2Gen strategies and continue to advance the concept through their work.  The panelists agreed about the need for collaboration and encouraged attendees to try to work together to grow their voice(s).  Funders also emphasized the importance of community voice and they will be looking for authentic community engagement as they continue to fund whole family, 2Gen work. TLC’s leadership is needed to ensure the 2Gen work happening in our different neighborhoods is connected to the 2Gen efforts in the entire county and linked to the community’s call to action. 

“The Second Annual 2Gen Summit revealed a strong appetite for establishing the 2Gen approach inter-agency collaboration,” said The Literacy Cooperative CEO Bob Paponetti.

“There’s a hunger there, but collaboration takes time. People need action, and that is why we want to bring this diverse group together,” he said. “Success comes from being comfortable and trusting one another. We need to understand when one of our partners succeeds, we all succeed.”

The next 2Gen Summit is planned for summer of 2020, but Paponetti said The Literacy Cooperative will provide ongoing working meetings and collaborative efforts until then. “You can’t meet too much,” he said. “The amount of engagement and participation in the room today proved that. People want to be here, and not just those in senior-level positions. Everyone wants to be involved and we want to help facilitate that.”

You can read our 2 Gen Community Call to Action plan here.

Special thanks to our 2Gen Planning Committee for continuing to support this great event.

How To Become Financially Literate

The first step to achieving financial independence is to become financially literate. Becoming financially literate means understanding how the world of finance operates. What rules and laws govern that world? When you learn how the finance world works, then you can make better decisions about what rules to follow and what rules to break. Developing financial literacy takes time, since you will always have more to learn, but getting started is quite simple. Here are 7 ways to achieve financial literacy that you can start doing today.

1. Pick up the paper

Start reading everything you can about finance. Yes, you can buy books on the subject (or better yet, check them out at the library or download them) but you can also learn a lot just by reading the finance section of your local paper. If physical newspapers are not your thing, you can also read the financial section of the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Fortune, Forbes and Money.

2. Read Rich Dad, Poor Dad

While much of the financial advice in this book flies in the face of traditional investment wisdom, there are reasons it remains one of the bestselling financial books of all time. Just remember, don’t believe everything you read, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pick up some great advice.

3. Avoid “get rich quick” schemes 

One of the fastest ways to lose all your money is to invest in pyramid schemes. The world – and the internet – is full of people promising you fast wealth and instant results. There is no quick and easy path to wealth. There are longer ways and shorter ways, but they all take discipline, determination and patience. Don’t believe anyone that tells you differently, and definitely don’t give them your money.

4. Use financial management tools 

Before you can build wealth, you must understand your own habits and patterns and what you are currently doing with the money you have. Personal financial management tools like Mint from Quickbooks is free to use and can give you a tremendous amount of insight into your personal financial habits. Building wealth often involves breaking bad spending habits, but in order to break them you have to understand what they are.

5. Take a class or attend a seminar

Not only will taking a class or attending a seminar help to build financial literacy, but it will also put you in contact with other like-minded individuals. You aren’t going to be able to learn all by yourself or even build wealth by yourself. It will take a network of people to help you. Some people in your support group will be experienced, some will not, but they will all possess knowledge and information you do not. They can help talk you down from the ledge when things get turbulent and can also be a good sounding board for any crazy ideas you may have.

6. Find a mentor

Chances are you know someone either in the financial world or who is a successful investor. They don’t necessarily have to be a millionaire to be successful, just financially stable. If you know anyone who is not constantly worried about money, then chances are good they are a financially literate.

7. Dive in

One of the best ways to learn about investing is to invest. You will always be more interested in something you have a stake in than something you don’t. You can retain the services of a professional firm to help you get started, or you can do it alone using a self-service apps but the best way to learn is to just do it. You don’t have to invest your life’s savings or bet the farm just yet (in fact, you shouldn’t) but you should at least dip your toe in the water to get started.


Brittany Waddell is a contributing writer and media specialist for NexGen Wealth. She often produces content for a variety of finance blogs.

Can-Do Guides to Literacy

Bob Paponetti and Laureen Atkins are members of The Open Door Collective’s (ODC) Labor & Workforce Development Issues Group. The group has issued a series of “Can-Do” Guides for various stakeholders (e.g., employers, labor unions, prisoner re-entry agencies, universities, and others).

Each guide explains why adult basic skills are important for the individuals with whom that stakeholder works (e.g., employees, union members, former inmates) and how that stakeholder can work with adult basic education providers to strengthen and expand basic skills development services in their community and state. Please read and share the guides.

ODC is dedicated to reshaping U.S. society to have dramatically less poverty and economic inequality and more civic engagement and participation in all our society has to offer. ODC members believe that adult basic skills education and lifelong learning programs can help open the doors of opportunity for everyone to healthier, more prosperous and satisfying lives. Visit to learn more.

Can-Do Guides to Literacy

What Re-Entry Services Can Do to Strengthen the Basic Skills of Former Inmates

What Labor Educators Can Do to Strengthen the Basic Skills of Our Workforce

What Universities Can Do to Strengthen U.S. Adult Basic Skills Efforts

What Forward-Thinking Employers Can Do to Strengthen the Basic Skills of Our Workforce