Inly Parents Group: Bridging School and Home

An Inly Parent’s Perspective by Rachel Rich

“At Inly, the teachers and parents work collaboratively to foster the development of the child and build a bridge between home and school.

“The mission of the Parents Group is to inspire and encourage involvement, to support the Inly Community, and to enhance our children’s experience.” 

Quoted from the 2019-20 Inly Time

Parents and schools know that parent involvement in a child’s education has long lasting and positive benefits. Also well understood is that collective parent participation and collaboration in a child’s school makes for an overall better educational experience for children. When parents take an active role in the education of their children at both home and school, research shows a direct correlation to increased positive attitudes towards school and learning, improved behavior, increased academic achievement, and higher involvement in school activities and extracurriculars. While parents understand this, it is not always easy to play an active role in a child’s school. Depending on the nature of the school and parent community relationship, access to opportunities for involvement may be limited or non-existent.

At Inly, a deep rooted collaboration between the parents and the school exists and thrives with the intention of enhancing the education delivered to children. As a result, children experience an education that challenges and supports their academic capabilities, connects families and the entire school community in positive and welcoming ways, and generates excitement in learning and going to school.

Parents at 80s Dance Party
The Family Series Committee organizes fun weekend social events for families, like the 80s Dance Party.

A Supportive Community

To be a part of the Parents Group at Inly, one only needs to be a parent or caregiver to an Inly student. There is no personal invitation required, amount of responsibility taken on expected, or running for office necessary. Regardless of work schedules, family dynamics, and financial circumstances, parents can be involved as much or as little as the time in their life allows due to a solid framework that has been previously established. Initial contact with the Parents Group can be slightly intimidating because it operates like a well-oiled machine. However, in reality it is a gem hidden-in-plain-sight. It is the engine providing families with real time information about the happenings around the school, beautifying the campus around the seasons, organizing family friendly social events, and coordinating with classroom teachers for volunteering opportunities. The Parents Group also provides ways to connect with the community and support and recognize families, teachers, and faculty members in times of hardship, celebration, dedication and commitment to the children. 

Parent volunteer drumming on stage with student
An Inly parent volunteers his time to drum on stage with students at the annual Fall Festival.

On Sunflower Hill this October, families gathered for a couple of hours to celebrate the arrival of fall with crafting, drumming, painting, and many other delightful activities, all organized and run by parents of the Parents Group. The school contributed support, access, and funding. In December, families will again come together for the traditional Gingerbread Cookie Decorating activity and again in February to dance the night away together in theme. These Family Series events are all done collaboratively as a parent and school community dedicated to the enhancement of the child’s education experience.

An Inly cow decorated for fall
The Beautification Committee adds special seasonal decorations to Inly’s iconic cows throughout the school year.

Hay bales, sunflowers, cornstalks and seasonal mums currently decorate the campus eliciting delight from toddlers, giving joy to children and adults alike. Each morning and afternoon, since the green Baby Cow (officially named Moo Cow in our family) has been surrounded by fall decorations, my two little girls take time to feed her the straw and rearrange the pumpkins to make her happier. These subtle visual enhancements are all a coordinated effort by the parents of the children that attend the school.

Throughout the year, as teachers and staff visit the staff room, they will be greeted with baskets of snacks and treats as an expression of gratitude from parents. Room parents will connect with classroom teachers and support them in their basic classroom routines by organizing sign-ups for item donations, craft day help, chaperones, library escorts, and classroom readers. When teachers and staff in a school feel supported and appreciated, their ability and desire to work with our children in positive, loving, and uplifting ways is substantially increased.

Family delivering community outreach donations to volunteer
The Community Outreach Committee of the Parents Group organizes “Fill the Truck Fridays” when donations are brought in for a different organization each week.

Following the winter break, parents will coordinate with the school and outside community to build and execute a giving back campaign. Each week, material and monetary donations will be collected by parents to fill a delivery truck. Once the truck is filled, items will be delivered to organizations in need. Children, families, and school faculty all come together to support the wider needs of the area. While parents work with the school to determine the needs that can be met and resources available, parents coordinate the campaign, collection, and delivery of the donations. It is a shining example of the greater good that comes from this partnership.

A group of parents at all-school picnic
Parents make connections and build lasting friendships through the Parents Group.

By engaging with the parent community through the Parents Group, parents at Inly make connections and build friendships. They get to know the people and families their children know. They get to be a part of their child’s daily experience and connect with them. I love telling my children that I am having coffee with their friend’s mom or heading to the school to drop off snacks for their teachers. They love that parents of their playground pals are my friends or that I might be at school that day to read the class a story. Children enjoy connecting over the collective, yet different, school experiences with their parents. I especially enjoy the friendships, coffees, and school-related get togethers that have allowed me to bond with many families at Inly. It truly feels like a community; I never feel disconnected or like an outsider. The Parents Group is a strong, sturdy, and welcoming bridge providing parents accessibility to increased involvement and participation in their children’s education and is available to any parent or caregiver who wishes to participate.

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