On the momentous occasion of Teacher’s day, school leader Mrs Rajeshwari received one rose and one wish from a student named Hema despite a school strength of 400. Her own kids were planning the day for their teachers to make it memorable. This day deeply upset her and triggered the urge to involve parents at a large scale and spread more awareness among her school’s children, parents and community around. This incident served as an impetus to turn things around in terms of parent engagement in her school.
Like most budget private schools, her school was also facing low attendance in parent-teacher meetings and had no involvement from the parents, not in a positive or negative way.
Mrs Rajeshwari, felt that engaging with parents would be the key to enrolling more students into her school. This would mean that she would have to increase the faith parents currently have in her school. Her idea was that if parents speak about the school with high regard, it would aspire other parents in the community to enrol their children into Shri Padmashree school.
As she started thinking about strategies to engage parents, she involved a few senior teachers and high school students who expressed interest in this idea. However, she had to deal with a lot of sarcasm from parents and teachers alike.
“I wanted someone to channelize these thoughts and to guide us. As a school leader, we guide many people, but we do not have anyone to refer to or guide us.”
- Mrs. Rajeshwari
Initiating Parent Engagement activities
In her ISLI Fellowship Programme, Mrs Rajeshwari focussed on increasing parent engagement in her school. The main idea behind all the strategies she implemented was to keep the actions student-centric i.e. to make kids influence their parents to engage with the school. With the help of a few like-minded parents, teachers and students she kick-started the following parent engagement activities:
Parents’ Talent Day: The school now organises a Talent Day for parents, where they display their skills in cooking, drama, Rangoli, along with different kinds of races and games.
Parent Meeting Day: Meetings are conducted during the lunch break time of the surrounding factories where the parents work. In addition, a PRO stands at the gate from a week prior to the meeting to remind all parents of the stipulated meeting date. The meeting days are not just for collecting marks cards or discussing the progress of the child, but it is an opportunity for parents to witness their kids’ performances in speech, debate, drawing and dance. Kids whose parents show less interest in school are given importance and made to prepare for a showcase on the day of the meeting. The kids being excited about their performances, coax their parents to come to school on the particular day.
Parents’ Counselling Day: A day where a psychiatrist educates parents about corporal punishment, school fairs and behaviour with kids at home.
Parents’ Committee: Where parents’ from all religious backgrounds get a chance to voice their opinion and have a say in school matters.
Overall impact of the initiatives
The initiatives put forward helped transform the parent engagement over time. Over a period of 5 years, Mrs Rajeshwari has achieved 85-90% parental engagement in school. Now the students and parents are together involved in activities that they never did before. The two-way relationship between them meant that student work with their parents for events like the talent day and parents are also more excited to come and watch their kids perform on events days.
Through the various activities, the communication between the various parents has also improved. Overall, Mrs Rajeshwari was able to inspire parents to take their child’s education more seriously. Through this change in mindset, she succeeded in her mission of motivating more parents to enrol their kids in Shri Padmashree High School.