#ParentCampUSA - The First Part of the Phrase is Parent

#ParentCampUSA - The First Part of the Phrase is Parent

Multiple studies show that a parent's engagement in their child's education is critical in improving outcomes for their students. The question is – How do we get more parents in engaged in education and what is the definition of engagement? Is engagement defined as just being an active member in a parent or booster group, does it mean attending parent-teacher conferences, does it mean actively working with your child at home to ensure they have mastered subject matter. It includes all the above and more.

Parent engagement spans from parent-child interaction at home to parents becoming leaders in a district, spearheading initiatives to give other parents the tools they need to help their children become successful.

Many states and even the Federal level are implementing initiatives centering on family-school-community partnerships based on research. When all of the partners are involved, students are more successful.

Administrators, teachers, family outreach coordinators, staff from federal and state departments of education have had the opportunities to learn more about family-school partnerships. One of the opportunities was held in October of 2015 at the Department of Education in Washington, DC. It was the first ever national #ParentCamp Unconference sponsored by the U. S. Department of Education. A #parentcamp is an unconference-conference. Sessions are topics made up by attendees throughout the course of the event. Each session is interactive, with all participants actively participating in each session; sharing their experiences and passion about the given topic. If a session isn't your cup of tea, the law of two feet can be used. Use your two feet to go find a session that will interest you and which you can immerse yourself with the other attendees. In addition to the sessions, one of the benefits of attending a #parentcamp is the networking opportunities you make during the breaks and downtime.

Throughout the event connections were made with many likeminded people, some parents, most of them education professionals. The long term outcomes are remaining in touch with a number new contacts made at the parents Camp. Social media provides a platform to share information, keep in touch and provide further networking opportunities. Voxer, Blab and Twitter provide the means to keep in touch. Many ideas were brought back to my district. One such idea was to have a series of mini #parentcamps to get our parents used to the concept of #parentcamps. Another outgrowth was the exchange of ideas and resources for administrators and teachers along with providing networking opportunities for.

My school district sent two employees to the event, but no monies were available for parents, especially non-Title I parents. Fortunately through the generous sponsorships of organizations such as c64KID Innovations and National Center for Family Literacy parents were able to attend. It wasn't the fee of the conference; that is free. It's the accommodations and travel which can inconvenience a parent who wishes to attend.

The networking with individuals outside one's comfort zone, my Professional Learning Network (PLN), has helped me get excited about the education of our children each day.

Julie D. Pile, Parent
Boone County, Kentucky