If you've been reading these tips for a while, you know how much we value parent involvement. The research makes it so clear that increasing parent involvement is perhaps the most important thing your group can achieve.

As your group gets better at involvement, you should think some about how you can increase your impact even more. Some of the most effective first steps to bringing parents in and making a connection are fun, welcoming events like a movie night or a carnival or a spaghetti supper. I'm a big fan of the value of community around a school.

As parents do start getting engaged, though, the research makes a strong case for integrating your family events with academic goals of the school. Now, that doesn't mean you have to have the language arts teacher droning on to parents about the reading curriculum. But what about a Family Reading Night ? How can you merge other academic goals and your family events? That's a second-level involvement step that can have an even greater impact at your school.

The whole thing is kind of a ladder. Like getting your kids into swimming -- first you get them to the pool, then they dip their toes in the water, then they splash around some, then they can maybe swim a few strokes in the lanes. Creatively connecting the classroom with your family events can be another step on the ladder for your school next year.