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Getting Started with Positive Behavior Support in Schools for Family Members

Family members, here are some steps to explore whether school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) is a good match for your school/community, and if so, how to move forward:

1. Find Out

2. Build Support

  • Talk with other stakeholders about school-wide PBIS and its benefits. Ask whether they would be interested as well.
  • Talk with your school’s principal about it and determine her or his interest.
  • Talk with other families, community members, and students. See if they would be interested in partnering to bring about improvements.
  • Having support of the school board and other district and community leaders is beneficial before starting district-level implementation. At the school level, having support of the principal and at least 80% of staff is necessary before starting implementation.

3. Start Small but Think About the Big Picture

  • Although you may not feel that you can influence school practices, there are steps you can take on your own while you continue to build support from the larger school/community:
    • At home: See the page on Getting Started with Positive Behavior Support at Home.
    • In your community: See the page on Getting Started with Positive Behavior Support at Home.
    • In your child’s classroom: Ask your child’s teacher(s) and other staff about expectations for student behavior (see this resource). Ask for clarity for rules that are unclear. Ask when expectations are taught and revisited. Even if your child's teachers are not implementing school-wide PBIS, they can still put positive classroom practices in place. See a checklist of best practices to use in the classroom and consider sharing it with your child’s teacher(s). If you notice your child’s teacher(s) implementing any of these practices, compliment him or her to provide encouragement. See a resource for starting the conversation with your child’s teacher
    • At your child’s school: Ask the principal about what proactive discipline strategies are in place. Consider suggesting that they view the Getting Started with PBIS in your School pages. Partner with them to promote a more positive approach. Other questions to consider:
      • What are the schoolwide expectations/rules?
      • How do you teach the schoolwide expectations and rules?
      • How do encourage and reward students for following the expectations and rules?
      • How do you respond when students violate expectations and rules?
    • See next steps below for ideas about how you might take part in promoting a more positive approach to discipline in the school.

4. Take Next Steps

  • Ask to sit on the school-wide PBIS team. School teams should include family representation to be more effective. Be ready to advocate for all students, however, and not just a few.
  • If you are contacted about challenges in working with your child, ask what proactive strategies are being put into place to support them. If the problem behaviors are not improving, ask for a functional behavior assessment. Know your rights as a parent in the district.
  • Continue to discuss PBIS with other families, teachers, and school board members.
  • Tell others about how PBIS is working for your child at home. Share your journey with them. If you’re doing something worthwhile, they will want to know.
  • Find resources, such as “How to Get Positive Behavior Support in Your School” to guide you.