Chapter Eight: Parents and Families, Communities and Schools


  1. Reread the prologue at the beginning of this chapter. Based on the information provided there and the material in the rest of this chapter, prepare a presentation by Gordon, the principal, on the importance of school–community relations to successful schools. Address it to either his staff, the school board, or the Faculty of Education.
  2. Parents who rarely attend parent–teacher conferences, or who do not interact comfortably with the school, are often referred to as hard-to-reach parents. We do not generally talk of hard-to-reach schools. List some of the ways in which schools might purposefully (or accidentally) discourage parent participation in student learning. How could these barriers be eliminated?
  3. Interview several parents of students in either an elementary or a secondary school. What kind of contact do they have with the school? Who initiates contact? How do they feel about their relationship with the school?
  4. Interview one or more teachers about working with parents. What do the teachers do to involve parents? What are their views about the value or potential of greater parent involvement?
  5. Study a local school to see what policies and practices it has in place with respect to parent and community involvement. How do these practices compare with some of those suggested in this chapter?
  6. Review one reading by a reproduction theorist. Do you find her or his argument about the schools as instruments of the status quo to be compelling? Why or why not?
  7. Outline the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of developing a “full-service” school and school system as proposed in Saskatchewan’s School PLUS vision. What sorts of services would you link to the school? Which would you not link? Why?
  8. You are part of a small committee of teachers and parents that was established by your school principal to improve home–school collaboration. Currently, there is little interaction in your school between parents and teachers, apart from one parent–teacher conference each year to discuss student progress, a steady flow of memos from the school to parents, and the very occasional parent conference to deal with the problems of individual students, usually related to discipline. Develop a proposal that outlines a rationale for increased collaboration (why you think it is important) and a one-year strategy for initiating a new collaborative relationship. What difficulties might you anticipate from parents or teachers?
  9. In the chapter, it was suggested that effective communication is easiest between people who share similar knowledge, experiences, and expectations of schools. How might class and cultural differences between teachers and families create barriers to effective school–home communication? How might these barriers be overcome?