Back to School: 6 Ways Communities Can Help Parents and Kids Succeed

Back to School: 6 Ways Communities Can Help Parents and Kids Succeed

Back to School: 6 Ways Communities Can Help Parents and Kids Succeed

Key Points

  • Parental involvement in education yields significant benefits for both students and schools. 
  • Students with engaged parents tend to have better academic outcomes, attendance rates, and behavior in the classroom. 
  • Schools and communities can employ a few concrete strategies to facilitate parental involvement and empower students to succeed at school and in life.

    Raising and educating young people takes a group effort. Everyone—parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, friends, clergy, coaches—plays an important role. Within this collaboration, parental involvement is especially powerful and yields numerous benefits for both children and schools. 

    Research consistently demonstrates that children with engaged parents tend to have higher academic performance, better attendance rates, improved behavior, and increased motivation to learn. Moreover, schools benefit from parental involvement by gaining valuable insights, fostering a supportive environment, and enhancing overall student outcomes. When our kids are successful and able to show up as their best selves, our entire communities benefit from future generations of healthy, responsible, caring adults who are well prepared for meaningful work, relationships, and community involvement. 

    As families prepare for a brand new school year, here are six ways that schools and communities can empower students and their parents and caregivers throughout the school year. 

    1. Build strong communication channels between parents, children, and schools. 

    Schools can employ various strategies, such as regular newsletters, parent-teacher conferences, class websites, and digital communication platforms to keep parents informed about their child’s progress, school activities, and opportunities for involvement. Encouraging two-way communication ensures that parents feel valued and heard, enabling them to participate in their child’s educational journey.

    2. Offer and promote parent education programs. 

    Parent education programs and workshops play a vital role in equipping parents with the necessary skills and knowledge to support their children’s learning. Schools can organize workshops on topics like homework assistance, effective communication strategies, and understanding curriculum standards. By empowering parents with the right tools, they become better equipped to engage in their child’s education and make informed decisions.

    3. Encourage volunteering and participation. 

    Volunteering opportunities provide parents or other primary caregivers with hands-on involvement in their child’s school and community. Schools can offer various volunteering options, such as assisting in the classroom, organizing events, or participating in extracurricular activities.

    Volunteering strengthens the parent-child bond, and it helps parents understand the educational environment and feel a sense of belonging within the school community. 

    When our kids are successful, entire communities benefit from future generations of healthy, responsible, caring adults who are well prepared for meaningful work, relationships, and community involvement. 

    4. Create family engagement events. 

    Family engagement events serve as an excellent platform to bring parents, children, and educators together. These events can range from family fun days, cultural celebrations, or academic showcases. 

    By organizing inclusive and interactive events, schools can create an inviting atmosphere that encourages parents to participate and form connections with other families, thereby enhancing the sense of community.

    5. Leverage technology to give parents flexibility.  

    In today’s digital age, technology can bridge the gap between parents, children, and schools.  Online platforms and applications give parents easy access to information about their child’s progress, assignments, and upcoming events. Schools can use technology for virtual parent-teacher conferences, webinars, or online discussion forums, enabling greater flexibility and engagement for parents who may have time constraints.

    6. Partner with the community to enrich students’ educational experiences. 

    Collaborating with the wider community enriches the educational experience and broadens the opportunities available to students. Schools can engage local businesses, organizations, and professionals to offer mentorship programs, career guidance, or specialized workshops. Community partnerships foster real-world connections, expose children to diverse perspectives, and demonstrate the importance of community involvement.

    Additional Resources

    Want to learn more about how communities can support parents and foster the academic achievement and well-being of our youth? Check out these resources based on our Raising Highly Capable Kids parenting program:


    My HOPE for individuals and families in 2022

    My HOPE for individuals and families in 2022

    My HOPE for individuals and families in 2022

    mowing grass with dad

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

    — Margaret Mead


    As we reflect on 2021 and think about what we want for the new year ahead, I thought that it would be beneficial to share what I see families are missing, and might consider starting now and continuing into 2022.

    Care for ourselves and others. Let’s all agree that we should move from being a spectator to being an active player. Recent headlines reflect our youth need us to show up for them unfortunately some of us are missing the boat. Begin by taking care of yourself. You can start with simple tasks like walking and/or drinking more water. 

    We need to care for others by volunteering within our own neighborhoods.  It’s been my personal experience many public libraries need volunteers, or maybe you can donate to your local food bank. We need everyone to be involved in changing the landscape of what is around us.

    The Success Sequence provides an outline of how to reverse the cycle of poverty in our communities. GCO uses this as a framework for much of our work.

    Community makes us stronger

    Community. When our family relationships are stronger our community is better and our state is better. Change always starts with us. 

    For example, have you ever noticed when people first move into a new neighborhood they make the effort to keep their lawns manicured?  But then, it never fails there is THAT one house whose yard is in disarray. That house can make the value of all the other homes lower because it is not well kept. However, instead of complaining about the neighbor’s inadequacies, see how you can help. Is there a young person who can mow the lawn?  This is beneficial because you are teaching a child how to help others and the neighbor gets their lawn mowed. Now the neighbor and teen are connected into the community. Plus, the neighborhood is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye, which brings home values back to where they should be. Everyone wins! Being a part of a community makes us feel as though we are a part of something greater than ourselves. 

    Collaboration. Think about how you can add value to a local organization utilizing your gifts and talents. Believe it or not, this is why you were given your gifts!

    At Georgia Center for Opportunity, we collaborate with a community of folks in the areas of education, employment, and family. Read more about our work and how its Not for self but for others” at


    Still celebrating my father!

    Still celebrating my father!

    Still celebrating my father!

    A celebration of fathers.

    Since Father’s Day is upon us, I am sure many of you are thinking about the presence or lack thereof your father in your life.  Hopefully some of you are thinking about the father that you are or want to become. No matter where you land, take it from an adult woman in her 50s that my dad still plays an important role in my life. He has long gone from this world—he passed in July 1997—but he impacts my decisions daily. He was an impact in my dating decisions, in my choice of who I married, and his influence continues to this day to guide me.

    I am sure I sound like a daddy’s girl—and for the record I am! No one had a dad more special than mine. My dad was the type of man everyone loved. Whenever you asked him how he was doing, he would yell out “MAGNIFICENT!” I am the youngest of three girls. Everyone knew that I was his favorite. We both were the youngest of our siblings so we had a special bond. It wasn’t that my dad was a huge talker—in fact he was quite low key. However, he taught us a lot by his actions. He was a hard worker, he went to church regularly, and he was an entrepreneur.   He loved Christmas and loved family. It is no coincidence that I married a man that is a lot like him and is also a great dad too!


    A family sitting on the floor together




    As a root cause for poverty, we knew we had to focus on building healthy families if we wanted to help individuals flourish—and strengthen our communities and state.

    A father’s impact cannot be understated

    The reason that this is so important is because it speaks volumes about the man when he can still impact his daughter even when she is older. I suppose that remembrance can go both ways: While my dad has a positive impact on me, other women are living out the consequences of their dad not being present in their life. Research tells us that father-absent girls display a host of outcomes including increased sexual promiscuity, higher rates of teen pregnancy, and unhealthy relationships.

    As we move into another year of celebrating fathers it is always great to remember the value a healthy relationship with your father can bring. While we know not all people have access to a father like I had, it is still something we can and should strive for. The stability and value of fathers is why we have a day to recognize them. We celebrate the role because we recognize the significance  of it.

    This is just another reason why I love working at the Georgia Center for Opportunity. We help those who do not have that foundation. We have workshops that help to give you a baseline of what is really important in life. You can reach us across all social media and maybe you would like to go one step further and let us know how your dad is still influencing your life.  I would love to hear about him! 


    Reflections of a Newlywed

    Reflections of a Newlywed

    Reflections of a Newlywed

    Joyce and Harold Update

    Reflections of a Newlywed: Lessons Learned From One Year Of Marriage

    A little more than a year ago you all reached out to my husband, Harold, and me on our exciting new journey as a married couple. We are so grateful for all of the wisdom that you shared with us.

    Since we have been married a year now, and as an ode to National Marriage Week, I thought you may be wondering how we are doing.  We are doing great! 

    Here are just a few of the nuggets of wisdom  passed onto us, which we really relied on this first year:

    • Overcome stressors in your marriage by making your marriage a priority
    • Never criticize your marriage in public and keep your marriage off of social media 
    • Be intentional about serving in your marriage
    • Pray together
    • Never end an apology with “but”
    • Life is going to happen no matter what’s going on, so share these things with your partner.

    “We are bringing you along with in a new life together. And, we’re going to be learning along the way.”  


    The gift of this advice was timely and helped us overcome unforeseen challenges that arrived after the wedding.

    I have only shared this with a small group of people, however, shortly after we were married, Harold suffered a stroke. It was traumatic for us both. I thought to myself, “we just got together, Lord please don’t take him from me.”  We had a tough hill to climb, but we were both strong mentally and we leaned on each other to get through it.  Now that Harold is a lot better, he said  he drew his strength from us, and we both realized it made us stronger.

    What did we learn from all of this: 

    1) We learned that mental support is needed just as much as medical support.  It’s like a diet without exercise.. 

    2) We learned well-being as a couple is also just as important as it is for individuals.  

    3) We also learned that community and a social network helps you get through it all.

    Our community provided us with strong advice and principles which we continue to integrate into our marriage. We talk a lot about community at Georgia Center for Opportunity, which is why we think it is important for you to experience community in our Family Life Education classes. In these classes we equip and empower you with the knowledge and skills that help you to become resilient.

    As Harold and I continue our marital journey, we hope these words of wisdom will help improve the quality of all of your relationships. For those looking for a little extra nudge, The Family Life Classes are available along with our Healthy@Home, and Thriving Together series on our website.


    Boundaries Define Us

    Boundaries Define Us



    Boundaries Define Us 


    By Joyce Mayberry




    “Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership. Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for gives me freedom.”

    Dr. Henry Cloud

    Merriam Webster defines boundary in this way:

    • Something that indicates or fixes a limit or extent.
    • A line that marks the limits of an area, a dividing line.


    When we talk about boundaries, we talk about restrictions and not necessarily freedom. There are several types of boundaries: mental, physical, and emotional. What type of boundaries do you have in your life? I think of obeying the law. Most recently, I think of COVID-19 and I think of social distancing. I just got married, so another boundary is being faithful to my spouse.


    Let’s look at what’s going on today. The first thing that comes to my mind is the tragic death of George Floyd. In this case I would think that the four officers lost sight of their emotional and personal boundaries. What about the boundaries of COVID-19? Do you feel that the coronavirus is creating stress? You may need to create mental boundaries that help to give you freedom from listening to all the news. 


    Are there areas in your life where things are in disarray? If there are, then you most likely do not have boundaries in that area. At the Georgia Center for Opportunity, in the impact area of Family Formation, we see regularly where people refuse to set clear boundaries. It’s important as we work to strengthen families and to see individuals flourish that we all seek to acknowledge when this does not happen. The Healthy Families Initiative has relationship education classes to help you to begin to experience that freedom that Dr. Henry Cloud talks about. Until you sign up for a class, here are some quick strategies that will help you to begin setting healthy boundaries:


    1. Know your value. Be clear about knowing who you are and where you stand.
    2. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Have your words speak for you!
    3. Trust yourself and have the courage to say no.


    As Dr. Henry Cloud says, setting boundaries is key to knowing where you end and someone else begins, and it allows you take ownership. Individually, we each can begin to take responsibility for what happens in our state, community, and families.