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Helping Families Ask Students the Right Questions for Better Overall Student Engagement

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By SchoolStatus 5 min

Most adults are familiar with the classic, unenthusiastic exchange about school—the kind with the one-word answers. It usually goes something like this.

“How was your day?”


“What did you do at school?”


It can be easy to simply drop the subject of school when a kid doesn’t engage. With all the other responsibilities at home and at work, no one wants to add ‘pulling teeth’ to their end-of-day routine.

But did you know that this breakdown in communication between students and their families can make a student less likely to come to class? 

Want More Engaged Students? Start By Engaging Their Families

As educators, our job isn’t just to connect with students. We need to connect with families as well. 

By building out a school communication system that connects with families as a whole, we can help caregivers help their students thrive. One way to help families is to cultivate engagement.

What is Family Engagement?

Family engagement happens in many different ways, but at its simplest, it is the act of a Family or caregiver showing interest, excitement, and support to their child about their education. 

That’s it.

It may not seem like much, but studies consistently show that family engagement encourages stronger attendance.

Families Need Our Support to Engage Their Students

Ideally, tackling absenteeism is a team effort by educators and a student’s family. 

However, depending on the family, engagement may be more difficult in practice than in theory. It may feel unnatural to some home adults, or feel overwhelming to juggle with other things in their lives. 

As an educator, taking the time to build regular one-on-one communication with students’ families can be a huge help in overcoming this hurdle. 

Using School Communication to Create Better Family-Educator Connections

The first step is simply showing families that YOU care. Show them you will listen. Encourage them to be a part of their student’s journey.

An integrated school communications solution can give educators an easy way to connect with families on an individual basis, providing the prompting they may need to better reach their students.

Communication example

How to Help Families With Questions

Your goal is to engage families in conversation so that they can better engage with their children. You can start by helping families ask their children questions that prompt better responses.

Here are some ways you can communicate these kinds of prompts to families:

  • Send them in a broadcast message to every family in your class
  • Text one to your students’ families every couple of days
  • Turn these questions into a graphic and post on your social media
  • Send specific questions to families when a student is struggling with something
Sample School Communications to Prompt Family Engagement

Feel free to use these prompts to get your creative juices flowing: 

“Hello! Ask your child about the hot air balloons we are building in science class. Each group has to come up with their own design, and we present on [this day].”

“Hello! Here are some questions to ask your child about their first days of school:

  1. If we traded places tomorrow what advice would you give me for the day?
  2. What is your favorite place to sit to do work or read?
  3. Did anything make you feel stressed today?”

“Hello, [Family’S NAME],  [STUDENT’S NAME] seems to be feeling anxious about the afternoon block of classes. Here are some potential questions to start a conversation:

  1. What were you grateful for today?
  2. What parts of school make you nervous?
  3. Did you ever feel unsure?”

“Hello! Having trouble getting your child to talk to you about school? Try some unconventional questions to start a fun conversation:

  1. Who would run the school if the zombie apocalypse happened?
  2. What would you change if you were the principal?”

How Family Engagement Can Support Attendance Goals

Family engagement can make a huge difference for a student. 

Studies show family engagement results in higher test scores, reduces absenteeism, and builds confidence in their children’s education. That can mean better funding for the district and improved accountability rankings.

Home adults who feel more connected to school staff become more communicative with teachers, more involved in school events, and have increased buy-in with district goals. 

We just need to get families communicating. And it’s as simple as sending a message.

Remember, the main goal is to open up a line of communication between you and the family, and between families and their kids. A response from a Family is a win! A conversation over text, or on the phone is a huge step in making families feel welcome and promoting their agency within the education system. Big changes can be made, but a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single text.

Find out more about SchoolStatus Connect, our integrated communications solution.

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SchoolStatus is a unified K-12 platform that enables districts and schools to engage more families and improve attendance with our easy-to-use communications hub and data-driven attendance solutions. We support an integrated and impactful educational experience, from district leadership to families at home. With more than two hundred million successful school-home interactions, and millions of users, SchoolStatus drives meaningful results for districts and schools across the US.
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