Engaging Families in Middle School

Do your middle school students try their best to stay away from the middle school when it’s not in session?  Do your middle school parents tend to shy away from the building? Are you searching for ways to bring families into the school setting?

One way our middle school gets families engaged is by holding Curriculum Nights.  We hold a Family Math Night, a Family Science Night and a Family Language Arts Night each year.

First, the hook for kids: we offer extra credit to any student who attends.  We also offer prizes and fun activities, but, let’s be honest, it’s the extra credit that draws them in!

We plan several fun activities related to the content.  Our Family Language Arts Night is coming up next week and our theme is Read Around the World.  Plans include a photo booth with international style props, teaching a few foreign language words along with sharing a travel themed book, coloring a bookmark, creating a book poster (like a movie poster), using the computer lab to look up information about other countries, and playing Scrabble.

When families arrive, they sign in and receive a passport.  As they travel to the various stations, they get their passport stamped at each location.  When they finish, they can show their passport for a small prize before they leave.

We found several versions of printable passport templates here: http://supermombyday.com/?p=1002 or here: http://www.fiarcircle.com/downloads/lessons/passport.htm

We’ve also done a more structured evening, with groups enjoying opening activities during the check in period, then moving from one location to another en masse.  However, the more relaxed version we tried last year was very successful.  Busy families could come in when they were able to, join activities as their time allowed, then head out to get to their next event.

Generally speaking, our Family Nights bring in about 25% of our student population.  Given the busy schedules most families have, we see this as a rousing success!  100 middle school students coming into school in the evening is pretty impressive.

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3 thoughts on “Engaging Families in Middle School

  1. amforte66 says:

    Great ideas! Is this a private school? I teach in a large 7-12 secondary school so we don’t do this sort of thing, but it sounds wonderful.

    • mrsfenger says:

      Actually, we are a public school. Rural and low income. You probably could do something like this, just make the activities more high school level. We’ve had a lot of success using the computer lab for our evening events. Parents are unfamiliar with the computers, so the kids end up teaching them. We made comic strips one year. They really liked that!

      • amforte66 says:

        That’s cool! I’m surprised to hear that their parents are unfamiliar with computers. I must be really out of touch!! I live just outside of D.C. in VA and even the lower income students seem to have computer access. Most of their books and assignments are online now. I’ve always wondered what kids without access do.

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