Latino parents can become more effective advocates for their children when they learn how to engage with the school system and when they learn about strategies they can use to navigate the stages of development as they progress through their school years. 

Getting involved

How can schools develop a meaningful relationship with the parents of the students they serve? How can they make it possible for parents to become part of their children’s education? How can they provide parents with the tools they need to succeed? 

Language and cultural differences keep many parents from becoming involved with their children’s school as does, for some, their economic background. Other parents may have personally failed in school and do not feel confident approaching education. Others may feel the school has a negative perception of them, so they do not feel welcomed. And others simply don’t know exactly how to become involved in their child’s school or their children’s education.

All parents, including Latino parents, have high hopes for their children. They have dreams of a better future, a better education, a better job or career and a higher quality of life. What many parents lack are the resources to help them effectively support their children on the road to academic success and, therefore, to a better future. 

Parents as partners

The most successful schools engage Latino families in authentic, meaningful relationships as education partners. Parents can often do more for schools than raise funds, monitor the cafeteria, or visit every six weeks. Schools can more effectively engage parents when they help them become knowledgeable about the school system and when they involve them in the development of school programs. Effectively engaged parents, therefore, are:

  • Education partners

  • Members of decision-making committees

  • Leaders in helping their school improve instruction and service delivery

  • Partners with the school in the development of programs

  • Advocates for their children

  • Advocates for their school

Schools can play a major role in the success of the students they serve when they provide families with the information they need and empower them with strategies to help their children succeed academically. To this end, schools must strive to engage families and their communities as collaborators and tap in to the values, history and language that bind them.

"For all who care about children and their education, there’s nothing more inspiring than seeing an empowered Latino parent advocating for their child."

Schools that have successfully engaged parents as partners in their children’s education have taught us that:

  • Engaging parents leads to increased student attendance and greater academic success.

  • Parents become involved in a school when they are treated as true partners.

  • Parents feel respected when teachers take time to share with them their children’s challenges and successes.

  • Parents become better advocates for their school and their children when the school takes time to talk to them about the importance of attending school daily, completing take-home assignments and, in paving the road to college entry, the need to get good grades.

  • While many parents need to receive orientation in a language other than English, once they have received it, they make sure their children are in school, follow the school’s rules, and complete their work successfully.

  • Schools that integrate the culture, history, and language of parents and community are more likely to succeed in their family engagement efforts.

  • When given the tools, parents begin to understand the intricacies of standardized tests, academic exams, or academic requirements for college entry and are better able to serve as effective supports to both their children and the school.

For all who care about children and their education, there’s nothing more inspiring than seeing an empowered Latino parent advocating for their child.