Keys to a Successful School Year: Resources to Engage Parents and Support Families
How can parents and caregivers balance competing responsibilities and still find the time to actively engage in their child’s education?
Child- and family-serving professionals can help parents and caregivers define what meaningful involvement looks like for their unique family situation and connect them with the available tools and resources.
According to the National PTA, research shows that parental involvement in education leads to greater student success and increased confidence. In fact, the National PTA reports that “the most accurate predictors of student achievement in school are not family income or social status, but the extent to which the family . . . becomes involved in the child’s education at school.” (Brooks, 2019)
How can parents and caregivers balance competing responsibilities and
still find the time to actively engage in their child’s education?
There are many ways that parents and caregivers can support their child’s learning journey both at home and throughout the school year. As a child- and family-serving professional, you can help families define what meaningful involvement looks like for their unique family situation and connect them with resources designed to promote their child’s academic success at every stage of learning. This post highlights resources available from local, state, and national organizations, including toolkits, videos, activities, and more!
California Department of Social Services Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP)
The California Department of Social Services Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP)’s Parent Resource Page provides California-specific information on resources available to parents and families:
- California Parent and Youth Helpline
- Parent Help Hotlines
- CalFresh and CalWorks Programs
- Family Resource Centers
- Spanish and Immigrant/Refugee Resources
California Department of Education (CDE)
- Ages and Stages of Development
- Early Childhood Educations Resources for Parents and Families
- Family Involvement & Partnerships for Families of Children with Disabilities
- Resources on IEPs for Children with Disabilities
- Social-Emotional Development Domain
Visit the CDE’s Specialized Programs page to discover additional resources for educators, parents, and child- and family-serving professionals!
California Health & Human Services Agency (CalHHS)
CalHHS has put together a collection of back-to-school mental health and well-being resources from various state and national organizations to support youth, parents/family/friends, and schools and teachers.
- For youth, returning to school can feel overwhelming. It’s OK to feel this way. CalHHS shares resources to help support youth’s mental and emotional well-being.
- For parents/family/friends, learn how to support a child or loved one during challenging times and discover strategies to help break the cycle of toxic stress.
- For schools and teachers, find tools and resources to support students who may be struggling with mental health issues.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The CDC website features a multitude of resources to help parents, caregivers, and students succeed this upcoming school year. Get started with:
- Beyond School Supplies: Back to School Reminders & Readiness
- Helping Young Children and Parents Transition Back to School (en Español)
- Back to School Preparedness (Podcast)
- Transitioning Back to School or Early Child Education (Podcast)
- Adolescent and School Health
Colorín Colorado is a bilingual website serving educators and families of English language learners (ELLs) in Grades PreK-12. Colorín Colorado provides free research-based information, activities, and advice to parents, schools, and communities around the country.
There are many ways that parents can support their children’s learning at home and throughout the school year. To get started, share this article from Colorín Colorado: Twenty Ways You Can Help Your Children Succeed At School.
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) envisions wellness for people living with mood disorders (depression and bipolar disorder). Going to school can generate lots of different emotions among students of all ages, especially the youngest ones. DBSA’s Mood Crew has created a series of back-to-school resources to help children adjust emotionally and address concerns related to making friends, studying with classmates, and learning new subjects. Parents/caregivers can follow along as the Mood Crew expresses their feelings about going to school and spark conversations with their child about handling emotions. Download the Mood Crew Back-to-School activity sheet.
Parents/caregivers can also find resources for older youth who may be struggling with the challenges of being a teenager and/or displaying mood disorder symptoms. Learn more on DBSA’s For Teens page.
First Five California
First 5 California is dedicated to making sure every child gets the best start in life, with a focus on California children from prenatal through age 5 and their families. Their School Readiness page provides resources designed to help parents/caregivers navigate the transition to Transitional Kindergarten (TK) or Kindergarten (K), and give their children the best start in this new adventure.
Beyond the classroom, the California Parent Guide is a resource hub where parents/caregivers can find information on how to help their child grow up healthy and thrive throughout the stages of early childhood. Topic areas include: Becoming a Parent, Your Baby, Your Toddler, Your Preschooler, Your Family’s Health, and Your Family’s Well-Being. View the Parent Guide online here.
Nemours KidsHealth.org provides information and resources on children’s health, behavior, and development from before birth through the teen years. Explore the School & Family Life page to find information on parenting basics, like homework help and how to talk to children about tough subjects, as well as where parents/caregivers can turn for help and support. Get started with these quick guides for all stages of school:
- 10 Ways to Help Your Child Succeed in Elementary School
- 10 Ways to Help Your Child Succeed in Middle School
- 10 Ways to Help Your Teen Succeed in High School
Explore KidsHealth.org’s dedicated resources for educators online here.
Mental Health America (MHA)
Back-to-school time is always met with mixed emotions, especially for the growing numbers of youth that struggle with feelings of anxiety and depression. MHA now has new, free resources to help support parents, teachers, students, caregivers, and others during this time of transition. The 2023 Back-to-School toolkit focuses on an area that MHA has seen to be a key driver of youth mental health concerns: social media and online activity. The toolkit, Selfies, Social, & Screens: Navigating Virtual Spaces for Youth, provides educational information and tips on how to tackle some of the most common online stressors for youth, like social comparison, body image, misinformation, and cyberbullying. Download the toolkit today!
National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI)
NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. Explore their resources related to mental health and back-to-school, including:
- Back to School Mental Health
- Putting a Plan In Place to Help Your Child Succeed at School
- 3 Types of School Supports to Help Students with Mental Health Conditions
- Mental Health Resources for Kids, Teens and Young Adults
- Video: Heading Back to School (A Student, Parent & Educator)
Prevent Child Abuse America
School-age children often spend more time with their teachers than they do with parents/caregivers. It is important that parents/caregivers, their children, and their teachers have a good working relationship. Discover tools and ideas for building these important relationships in the following articles from Prevent Child Abuse America:
Prevent Child Abuse America is committed to preventing child abuse and neglect before it happens. View their collection of Parenting Tips online here.
Children’s lives are packed with first-time experiences. Sesame Workshops’ School Readiness resources will help parents/caregivers start thinking about how to best help children take the next step into a new chapter of learning and growing. Building a strong foundation of early school readiness is key to success in school and in life. The Parent-Teacher Communication Tip Sheet outlines questions parents/caregivers should consider and the information they might share when meeting with their child’s teacher. Explore all of Sesame Workshop’s School Readiness videos, printables, and interactive activities for preschool, kindergarten, and first grade! Also available en Español.
U.S. Department of Education (ED)
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) promotes student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access. ED’s Parent portal provides resources within five areas:
- Early Childhood Education
- Special Education
- Reading Resources
- Help Your Child Learn
- Pay for College
The ED and their Partners in Progress have also developed a Parent Checklist that provides parents/caregivers with a set of questions to ask and important issues to consider when approaching their child’s teachers, principals, and counselors about his or her development. Download I HAVE A QUESTION…What Parents and Caregivers Can Ask and Do to Help Children Thrive at School.
Explore their Countdown to School Success resource, which is a month-by-month guide filled with the advice, tools, and online resources parents/caregivers need to help their children have a school year packed with fun and learning. The guide features 40 ways to help kids learn!
Crisis Text Line:
On Our Sleeves: Self-Care Student Planner
- How to Prepare Kids for Back-to-School
- Back-to-School Mental Health Checklist
- Back-to-School Conversation Starters
Quality Start Los Angeles: Back to School Checklists
ZERO TO THREE: Tips on Helping Your Child Develop Confidence
Extend Your Learning with CalTrin!
Throughout the school year, it’s important that parents and caregivers don’t become overwhelmed by competing priorities such as work responsibilities, pick up, drop off, homework, after-school activities, day-to-day household management, and more. When parents and caregivers experience added stressors, that puts children at an increased risk for abuse and neglect.
The Strengthening Families™ Protective Factors Framework from the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) outlines a core set of five Protective Factors that reduce the likelihood of childhood abuse and neglect. Protective Factors help ensure that children and youth function well at home, in school, at work, and in the community. They also can serve as safeguards, helping parents who otherwise might be at risk find resources, support, or coping strategies that allow them to parent effectively—even under stress. (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2020)
Read CalTrin’s Understanding and Integrating the Protective Factors Framework into Everyday Practice blog post for a quick overview! For a live learning experience, sign up to attend the remaining sessions in CalTrin’s Protective Factor of the Month series—and catch up on prior sessions in the series here.
Visit CalTrin’s Training Archive to access recordings and materials from prior webinars focused on Protective Factors, child development, and parent engagement. Specifically, our Culturally Responsive Family Engagement training focused on how children develop within the context of their cultures, models of family engagement, and strategies for engaging families–with a strong focus on a child’s educational environment.
Explore these relevant CalTrin Blogs:
- Prevention and Intervention Resources for Educators and School Administrators
- Part One: Overview of Child Development
- Part Two: Social-Emotional Development
- Part Three: Emotional Regulation
- The Importance of Father Involvement and Resources to Promote Engagement
- Resources to Support Early Childhood Mental Health
- Parent & Caregiver Mental Health Resources
- Resources for Supporting Military Families
*Last updated September 28, 2023