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Inviting parent participation in elementary science

Inviting parents into the learning process is a great way to generate excitement for science learning in the classroom. Here are a few suggestions for enhancing parent engagement:

  • In the beginning of the school year, send a letter to parents inviting them to visit with your class about their jobs. Match the job description with your science units throughout the year so that the parent visit coincides with your unit of study.

  • Prepare students before the visit by giving them background information about the parent’s career and brainstorming a list of questions to ask. After the parent visit, debrief the students to generate a list of facts and concepts that were learned from her/his presentation. Tie in as many ideas as you can to the current science unit of study.

  • Invite parents to participate in their child’s homework by assigning a collaborative task. Pose science questions to students that have multiple answers or multiple explanations. Parents and their child can submit their answers and explanations, and this can be the starting point for rich discussion in the classroom.

  • Parents and their children can also investigate how common household tools work. Give a list of science vocabulary words to students and invite them to match the words with tools, appliances or equipment at home. Encourage parents to explore how things work with their children. Parents and child can draw and label tools, working together to investigate their function and design.

  • When preparing for a school science fair, invite parents to an information night. Conduct the meeting just as you would with your students, introducing parents to the scientific process: question, research, hypothesis, experiment, data collection, explanation of data, conclusion, more questions. Next, engage parents in a science investigation, providing them with time and assistance to engage in an inquiry-based activity, just as their children do in class.

Key words: engaging communities, parent participation, science fair, homework