How to Engage Parents in Positive Youth Development Efforts
Aug 01 2023

How to Engage Parents in Positive Youth Development Efforts

Positive Action Team
Discover effective strategies to engage parents in positive youth development efforts. Strengthen relationships and support youth growth together.

"Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see." — Neil Postman

Great words by a great man.

Neil Postman's profound statement beautifully captures the significance children have in shaping the future. 

Our children, with their innocence, curiosity, and potential, embody the hopes and dreams we have for generations to come.

As parents, educators, and caregivers, it’s our duty to nurture and guide these young messengers by introducing them to positive youth development values, such as integrity, empathy, and critical thinking.

As a result, we’ll end up with a generation of pioneers equipped with strong standing skills to navigate the challenges of their time and create positive change.

To help you encourage parents to play their part in this noble movement, we’ve compiled a list of actionable strategies to guide you. We’ll also cover:

  • The obvious but surprising methods you’ll use to ensure you’re always able to communicate with parents and guardians
  • The benefits of creating a parent support network
  • How students will benefit from having their parents join them in the classroom

Without further ado, let's begin.

1 - Engaging in Effective Communication

Life can get hectic for parents. 

From demanding work schedules and household responsibilities to spending time with their kids and partners, they often have limited time to actively participate in their children's educational lives.

However, playing an active role in the development of one’s child is just as important and should be given as much priority as other responsibilities.

Many parents aren’t fully aware of the importance of their involvement in their child’s education or may lack knowledge about how they can actively contribute. 

As educators, we have the resources to equip them with effective strategies they can use to support their children’s learning.

But first, we must establish regular and open lines of communication with parents to provide them with updates on their child's progress and offer tips related to positive parenting. Here are some actionable steps to get you started:

1 - Organize a Parent Engagement Night

At the start of the school year, send out invitations to all parents and guardians, inviting them to discuss their role in positive youth development.

In the invitation, highlight the importance of parental involvement in the development and academic success of students, and state the benefits both parties stand to gain from attending the event.

Ensure you use fun and welcoming language to entice parents into attending. If possible, mention that you’ll be offering refreshments or snacks. Food has been known as a powerful motivator for attracting people to events.

2 - Build Rapport Through Collaborative Workshops

On the day of the event, organize a series of interactive workshops where parents and teachers collaborate to address various aspects of youth development. Here are some ideas to inspire you:

  • Workshop 1 "Promoting Emotional Resilience": Introduce parents to the Positive Action philosophy—that we feel good about ourselves when we take positive action. 

Open a discussion on how Character Education and social-emotional learning contribute to emotional well-being, stress management, and resilience in students.

  • Workshop 2 "Building Healthy Habits": Using Unit 2 of the Positive Action program as a guide, share tips and strategies with parents for promoting physical fitness, balanced nutrition, and healthy lifestyle choices among students. 

Encourage parents to plan a family day once per week where everyone participates in joint projects, interactive games, or family events that promote physical activity.

  • Workshop 3 "Parent-Teacher Partnership for Academic Success": Focus on establishing effective communication channels with parents. 

Provide a brief summary of the communication mediums you use, such as newsletters, texts, or calls, and collect parents' contact information to ensure effective and consistent communication.

3 - Create Content to Aid Youth Development Efforts

Now that you have a means of regularly contacting parents, create a monthly or quarterly newsletter that highlights the progress and achievements of youth development efforts. 

Newsletters are the perfect medium to start with because they allow you to include updates on upcoming events, success stories, and practical tips for parents to reinforce positive behaviors at home in a comprehensive manner.

As a bonus, summarize your newsletter to provide value for parents who opted for short-form communication, such as texts or emails. 

Pro Tip: Don't forget to provide a link to the newsletter in these mediums in case the parent is interested in reading more.

2 - Establishing a Supportive Environment

Sometimes, we find ourselves stumbling through life, trying to keep it all together for our loved ones. 

This is especially true for parents. Not only are they responsible for their own lives, but for their child’s as well. As you can imagine, things can get overwhelming, and they need all the help they can get. 

Positive Action understands this. We’ve developed an evidence-based parenting class that will help parents become more confident in their parenting skills and give them a better understanding of positive youth development. 

Our ultimate goal in creating these programs is to empower parents so that they can navigate challenges and make informed decisions, leading to a more harmonious home environment.

Now, let's explore how you can implement a Parent Education Series—using our programs as a guiding light—to create a positive and supportive environment for both guardians and their children:

Parent-Teacher Meetings

Launch into the program by initiating a series of parent-teacher meetings that will guide caregivers through the lessons in the Family Kit

The kit consists of 15-minute lessons designed to enhance parenting skills and demonstrate how positive actions can be implemented at home. 

During these meetings, actively listen to parents' concerns, answer their questions, and ask for their input

Utilize this opportunity to emphasize the importance of parental involvement and invite them to actively participate in the Parent Education Series.

Organize Workshops and Training Sessions

Collaborate with school counselors, community experts, or other educators to conduct workshops and training sessions about prevalent issues that may hinder harmony in the home. 

For instance, identify students who come from high-need, at-risk families, and introduce them and their parents to the Family Classes Kit

In the first half of the session, you’ll divide the parents, adolescents, and younger children into separate workshops held simultaneously. The workshops will cover the same Positive Action concepts but will be adjusted to suit each age group

To wrap up the workshop, all groups come back together to review what they learned and participate in an activity that strengthens the communication, relationships, and dynamics of family life.

Incorporate Parent Volunteer Days

After completing parenting classes, organize quarterly parent volunteer days where parents can actively participate in classroom activities. 

Ask parents to share how they use positive actions in the workplace with students to help them understand how they’ll be able to use these practices in the future. 

Additionally, have them discuss their cultures and expertise in a certain field to inspire the next generation. This involvement strengthens the home-school connection and fosters a sense of belonging.

3 - Create a Parent Support Network 

You never know what someone is going through until you walk in their shoes

As such, being able to share your concerns, triumphs, and frustrations with like-minded individuals is such a huge help in reducing feelings of isolation and stress.

If you’ve ever joined an online community of people who share your interests, you’ve probably enjoyed the banter, companionship, and sense of belonging it brought.

We recommend you invest time in creating a support network to provide parents with a platform where they can share ideas, strategies, and information related to parenting.

Facilitate networking opportunities, such as parent discussion groups or online forums, where parents can share experiences, exchange ideas, and support each other in implementing positive parenting practices

Parents who are actively engaged in a support network stand to gain the following benefits:

Emotional Support

A parent support network provides a space where parents can connect with people who are going through similar experiences.

To illustrate, Sarah, the mother of a teenager, expresses concerns about her child’s sudden change in behavior and how she’s struggling to connect with them. She does so in the Facebook group of a parent support network.

Other parents in the network empathize with her and share their own stories of navigating the teenage years. They provide emotional support, reassurance, and advice based on their own experiences. 

As a result, Sarah feels validated, less alone in her struggles, and gains a renewed sense of hope and determination to address the issues at hand.

Exchange of Ideas and Information

When it comes to making decisions that affect the lives of our children, it’s best to tread with caution.

However, that’s easier said than done, especially in new situations that we have no clue how to handle.

Enter the parent support network. It provides a platform for sharing ideas, strategies, and information related to parenting to expand their understanding and enable them to make informed decisions for their children.

Imagine the following scenario. Mark, a father of a child with ADHD, has been struggling to find effective strategies to manage his child’s symptoms. 

He attends a workshop organized by the parent support network and learns about a specific technique called "chunking," where tasks are broken down into smaller, more manageable parts. 

He discovers how other parents have implemented this technique and achieved positive results. Mark leaves the workshop equipped with new ideas and approaches that he can apply at home, enhancing his child's learning experience.

Building Friendships and Social Connections

Parenting can sometimes lead to a shift in social dynamics, making it challenging to maintain or develop new friendships.

An easily accessible and engaged parent support network provides an opportunity to build connections that lead to the formation of lasting friendships for both parents and children.

Over time, parents develop close friendships with each other and children form playgroups. 

Bonus: Outside of the parent support group, continue to stand by and celebrate each other's parenting journeys. This creates a supportive social circle where people can rely on one another for advice, playdates, and emotional support.

Keep Parents Engaged in Youth Development Through Positive Action

As we’ve just illustrated, it’s very easy to find ways to empower parents to take an active role in youth development.

Parent engagement nights allow you to establish a means of communication with parents, offer a supportive environment, and create a parent support network.

The table below highlights a variety of engaging activities to foster parental involvement and strengthen partnerships between schools and families:

Activity Description
Family events Organize events to bring families together
Parent-child workshops Conduct workshops for parents and their children
Parent education sessions Provide educational sessions on relevant topics
Parent advisory councils Form councils to gather input and ideas from parents
Home visits Conduct home visits to build relationships and support parents

Positive Action recognizes that an effective and supportive family is crucial for a student’s academic success and overall well-being. 

For this reason, we curated an evidence-based parenting class that provides tools and resources to promote positive family dynamics and support parents in their roles as caregivers and educators. 

Positive Action is the secret ingredient you need to engage parents in youth development efforts, and we would love to have you join us for a 30-minute overview webinar to discuss your future with us. 

Contact us via email at or call us at (208) 733-1328 to get started.


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