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Parent Engagement


Parent engagement in schools is defined as parents and school staff working together to support and improve the learning, development, and health of children and adolescents.1,2 Parent engagement in schools is a shared responsibility in which schools and other community agencies and organizations are committed to reaching out to engage parents in meaningful ways, and parents are committed to actively supporting their children’s and adolescents’ learning and development.1,2 This relationship between schools and parents cuts across and reinforces children’s health and learning in multiple settings—at home, in school, in out-of-school programs, and in the community.

Engaging parents in their children’s school life is a promising protective factor. Research shows that parent engagement in schools is closely linked to better student behavior,3-6 higher academic achievement,7-9 and enhanced social skills.10,6 Parent engagement also makes it more likely that children and adolescents will avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as tobacco. 11-14

Efforts to improve child and adolescent health have typically addressed specific health risk behaviors, such as tobacco use. However, results from a growing number of studies suggest that greater health impact might be achieved by also enhancing protective factors that help children and adolescents avoid multiple behaviors that place them at risk for adverse health and educational outcomes.

Strategy Guide for Engaging Parents in School Health

cover for Parent Engagement Strategy Guide

Parent Engagement: Strategies for Involving Parents in School Health [PDF - 1.7 MB]

To encourage parent engagement in school health, schools can:

  1. Connect with parents.
  2. Engage parents by providing a variety of activities and frequent opportunities to fully involve parents.1,15
  3. Sustain parent engagement by addressing the common challenges to getting and keeping parents engaged.