Content Area Nights that Create Opportunities for Parent Engagement

Topics that Prepare Parents for College and Career Readiness

Welcome all stakeholders to Gr 7-12 Family Activity Nights. JAG IMAGES/Getty Images

While students in grades 7-12 may be testing their independence, parents and caregivers may feel as though they are becoming less necessary. Research shows, however, that even at middle school and high school grade levels, keeping parents in the loop is critical to each student's academic success.

In the 2002 research review A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement, Anne T. Henderson and Karen L. Mapp conclude that when parents are involved in their children’s learning both at home and at school, regardless of race/ethnicity, class, or parents’ level of education, their children do better in school.

Several of the recommendations from this report include specific types of involvement including learning-focused involvement activities including the following:

  • Family nights focused on content areas (arts, math, or literacy)
  • Parent-teacher conferences that involve students;
  • Family workshops on planning for college;

Family activity nights are organized on a central theme and are offered at school during hours that are favored by (working) parents. At the middle and high school levels, students can fully participate as well in these activity nights by acting as hosts/ hostesses. Depending on the theme for the activity nights, students can demonstrate or teach skills sets. Finally, students can serve as babysitters at the event for parents who need that support in order to attend.

In offering these activity nights for middle and high school, consideration should be given to the age and maturity of the students in mind. Involving the middle school and high school students when planning events and activities will give them ownership of an event.

Family Content Area Nights

Literacy and math nights are features in elementary schools, but at the middle and high school schools, educators can look to feature specific content areas such as social studies, science, the arts or technical subject areas. The nights could feature student work products (EX: art shows, woodcraft demonstrations, culinary tastings, science fair, etc.) or student performance (EX: music, poetry reading, drama). These family nights could be organized and offered school wide as large events or in smaller venues by individual teachers in classrooms.

Showcase Curriculum and Planning Nights

While much attention has been been on the curriculum revisions taking place nationwide to align with the Common Core State Standards, individual school district curriculum changes are what parents need to understand in planning academic decisions for their children. Hosting curriculum nights in middle and high school lets parents preview the sequence of study for each academic track offered in the school. A overview of a school's course offerings also keeps parents in the loop on what students will learn (objectives) and how measurements for understanding will be done in both formative assessments and in summative assessments.

Athletic Program

Many parents are interested in a school district's athletic program. A family activity night is an ideal venue to share this information for designing a student's academic course load and sports schedule. Coaches and educators at each school can discuss how parents should be aware of the time commitments required of participating in a sport, even at the intra-mural level. Preparation of coursework and attention on GPAs, weighted grades, and class rank given in advance to parents of students who wish to participate in college athletic scholarship programs is important, and this information from athletic directors and guidance counselors can begin as early as 7th grade.


Parent involvement can be encouraged through family activity nights that offer information on a variety of relevant topics such as those listed above. Surveys to all stakeholders (educators, students, and parents) can help design these family activity nights in advance as well as provide feedback after participation. Popular family activity nights can be repeated from year to year. 

Regardless of the topic, all stakeholders, share responsibility in preparing preparing students for college and career readiness in the 21st Century. Family activity nights are the ideal venue to share critical information tied to this shared responsibility.

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Your Citation
Bennett, Colette. "Content Area Nights that Create Opportunities for Parent Engagement." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Bennett, Colette. (2020, August 27). Content Area Nights that Create Opportunities for Parent Engagement. Retrieved from Bennett, Colette. "Content Area Nights that Create Opportunities for Parent Engagement." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 24, 2023).