Promoting Parent Engagement: Improving Student Health and Academic Achievement

Information for School Districts and School Administrators

This fact sheet provides guidance for school districts and administrators to support parent engagement in school health.

Group of teens

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. Studies have shown that parent engagement in schools can promote positive education and health behaviors among children and adolescents.

Why is it important for parents to be engaged in their child’s school?

Parent engagement in schools contributes to students’ health and learning. Studies have shown that students who have parents engaged in their school lives are more likely to have

  • Higher grades and test scores.
  • Better student behavior.
  • Enhanced social skills.

In addition, students who have parents engaged in their school lives are less likely to

  • Smoke cigarettes.
  • Drink alcohol.
  • Become pregnant.
  • Be physically inactive.
  • Be emotionally distressed.
What factors can increase parent engagement in school health?
Factors can increase parent engagement in school health

Research shows the primary motivation for parents to become involved is the belief that their actions will improve their children’s learning and well-being. Research also shows parents tend to be more involved if they perceive school staff and students want and expect their involvement.

To increase parent engagement in school health, schools must make a positive connection with parents. Schools should also provide a variety of activities and frequent opportunities to fully engage parents. Finally, schools should work with parents to sustain parent engagement by addressing the common challenges to getting and keeping parents engaged.

What factors can increase parent engagement in school health?

Research shows the primary motivation for parents to become involved is the belief that their actions will improve their children’s learning and well-being. Research also shows parents tend to be more involved if they perceive school staff and students want and expect their involvement.

To increase parent engagement in school health, schools must make a positive connection with parents. Schools should also provide a variety of activities and frequent opportunities to fully engage parents. Finally, schools should work with parents to sustain parent engagement by addressing the common challenges to getting and keeping parents engaged.

What actions can school districts and administrators take to support parent engagement?

Parent Engagement: Strategies for Involving Parents in School Health pdf icon[PDF – 2 MB] describes strategies for increasing parent engagement in school health. Following are strategies and actions school districts and administrators can take to support parent engagement in school health.

* Epstein, J. L. et al. (2009). School, family, and community partnerships: Your handbook for action, third edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

How should school districts and administrators approach planning to make improvements in parent engagement in school health?

Improving parent engagement in school health by advancing students’ health and academic outcomes is a team effort. It involves the school community as well as individuals, groups, and organizations outside of the school. It also requires 1) convincing these stakeholders of the importance of parent engagement in helping students learn and be healthy, 2) involving them in the development, implementation, and evaluation of these actions, and 3) securing their buy-in to ensure that parent engagement happens.

Some of the strategies and actions described above require small changes in school processes that can be done in the short term with relative ease. Others might be broader and longer-term and might require administrative or budgetary changes. Schools and school districts should determine which actions are most feasible and appropriate, according to the needs of the school and available resources.