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Barriers to Parent Involvement

School Staff

  • Lack of time
  • Not understanding parents’/guardians’ communication style
  • Misperception of parents’/guardians’ abilities
  • Waiting too long to contact families Making a first contact with negative information
  • Belief that parents/guardians lack respect for teachers
  • Belief that some parents/guardians will challenge teacher authority and decisions
  • Lack of training to work with families
  • Concern that increased family involvement will mean that more will be added to already busy schedules


  • Lack of time and flexibility to meet classroom involvement expectations
  • All energy focused on meeting children’s basic and social-emotional needs
  • Language barriers
  • Children of various ages and grade levels
  • Lack of transportation, child care, technology, etc.
  • Mobility/disability barriers
  • Lack of confidence about school matters
  • Intimidated by or feel unwelcome at school
  • See themselves as teacher supporters vs teacher collaborators
  • Cultural norms (valuing morals vs cognitive traits, deferring to teachers as the authority)

What Schools Can Do

  • Make contact with parents/guardians early in the school year
  • Survey parents/guardians to determine the most prevalent barriers in your school neighborhood
  • Ask parents/guardians what they need and how you can help
  • Communicate regularly with parents/guardians about their child’s learning
  • Participate in home visits
  • Work with parents/guardians to make a realistic weekly study schedule
  • Coordinate with the other teachers of all children in the family to help parents support learning at home
  • Schedule time to teach parents/guardians how to navigate the resources their children will be using in your class
  • Utilize free resources whenever possible
  • Use tools such as Microsoft Translator or Google Translate to facilitate communication with parents/guardians in their native language
  • Demonstrate the use of tools like Immersive Reader to parents/guardians for use with their children
  • Share information about local supporting resources like the public library, Foster Grandparents, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Communities in Schools, and the Boys and Girls Club

Note: This document is a starting point designed to help school personnel identify reasons why parents might not be involved. Ultimately, it may even result in more questions than answers. Look for ways to turn your questions into opportunities for exploration, growth, and community building.

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