Creating a Welcoming Atmosphere

The physical appearance of a school building does a lot to encourage or discourage family involvement. A physical structure that is forbidding sends the message "keep out." A home-like environment lets people know they are welcome. Some things schools can do to create this type of environment include:
  • Display signs that welcome visitors and remove warning signs if possible. (If English is a second language for many families, add welcome signs that reflect the languages of families' countries or origins.)
  • Post a map that explains where to find the main office.
  • Arrange flowers, brightly colored murals, children's pictures, other displays, or photographs in an entrance hallway.
  • Designate space for a family center and have coffee, tea, or cold drinks available.
  • Have a family volunteer greet other families at the entrance of the school at drop-off and pick-up times during the first week of school.
  • Encourage all staff to participate in family involvement. Brainstorm strategies for welcoming and supporting families.
  • Arrange for translators for families who do not speak English.
SOURCE: Swap, S. Developing Home-School Partnerships, From Concepts to Practice. New York, NY: Teachers College Press, 1993.