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University of Minnesota Extension

Practices that promote schools as welcoming communities

It’s important that schools be welcoming to families. Here are some ideas to help improve the partnership between families and schools.

At school

At school, you could:

  • Develop a welcoming school-family partnership policy, publish it for all to see, and post it in an obvious location in the school.
  • Display welcome signs in various languages that reflect the school’s diverse population.
  • Post a welcome sign at the front door or in the school’s entrance corridor.
  • Ensure the school office staff are friendly and open.
  • Organize the school staff so each child and family is known well by at least one person.
  • Provide a full-time parent contact person responsible for connecting parents and educators.
  • Post a school map to help visitors find their way around the school building.
  • Arrange flowers, murals, children’s pictures, and photographs in the main hallways.
  • Consider a “family center” or parent room to allow family members to meet formally or informally with each other.
  • Have toys available for young children to encourage parents with toddlers and infants to attend school functions.
  • Arrange for translators for family members who do not speak English.

Family outreach

To reach even more families, you could also:

  • Make at least one complimentary phone call to a parent each day.
  • Sponsor a regular (e.g., monthly) parents’ luncheon for informal social interactions.
  • Consider special events for fathers, such as “Significant Male Day” or “Doughnuts for Dad.”
  • Ask a parent or grandparent to greet other parents at drop-off and pick-up times.
  • Develop a friendly and inviting greeting for receptionists.
  • Smile.
  • Celebrate student successes.
  • Invite parents to visit the school or classrooms.
  • Use an “open school” policy or designate times when staff is available to talk.
  • Host social events and multicultural celebrations.
  • Make a home visit to welcome parents, invite them to visit the school, or provide a book as a friendly gesture.
  • Ask parents about their needs and provide necessary services.
  • Sponsor parent-to-parent communications and events.

Kathleen A. Olson, Colleen Gengler, and Jo Musich, Extension educators in family resiliency; Madge Alberts, Program coordinator with children, youth and family consortium

Reviewed by Kathleen A. Olson, Program director in partnering for school success

Reviewed in 2018

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