The importance of family engagement in schools: Success stories from Stand Together
Family engagement in schools is not a one-size-fits-all concept. It’s a shared responsibility, a collective endeavor that brings together parents, educators, and communities in shaping the educational journey of students. Dive into the transformative power of family engagement, exploring inspiring success stories from Stand Together, a community committed to transforming education and empowering students to realize their potential.
Understanding family engagement in schools
Family engagement embodies a collaborative approach where families, schools, and communities come together, focusing on improving children’s learning and development. It commences from the early years of education and continues throughout a child’s academic journey, fostering a supportive learning environment both at school and home.
Relationship trust, mutual respect, cultural responsiveness – these are the cornerstones of family engagement. According to the Global Family Research Project, successful family engagement integrates parent involvement in school structures and educator professional development as a core component of educational goals.
How does our educational institution define “family engagement”?
What are the needs of diverse families in our community? How can we support them?
How can we empower families with resources to extend learning at home?
The impact of parental involvement in schools
Research consistently highlights the positive correlation between family engagement and student success. When families actively participate in their children’s education, it leads to improved outcomes, better well-being, and heightened school readiness. Notably, family involvement benefits all students, particularly those who face challenges in succeeding at school.
Is our staff cognizant of the significance of community engagement?
Are they equipped with the necessary skills to foster family engagement? If not, how can we enhance their capabilities?
Barriers to family engagement in schools
Identifying the obstacles to family involvement is critical. Common barriers often include a lack of time, childcare needs, and negative perceptions about school and staff. It’s crucial to understand these challenges to devise effective methods for encouraging families to actively engage in their children’s educational journey.
Are we seeking feedback from all families? Are we asking the right questions to understand their challenges in engaging with their child’s education?
Are parents’ voices influencing our family-school partnership programs?
Strategies to foster family engagement
Grounding strategic planning in an evidence-based family engagement framework, inviting families to share their concerns, and integrating families into the decision-making process are some ways to support family engagement in schools. Assessing family engagement initiatives through an equity lens and offering flexible involvement options can facilitate meaningful, two-way communication between the school and families.
What is our vision for family engagement?
How can we ensure that families, staff, and students contribute to establishing this vision?
How are we addressing challenges such as childcare, English-language proficiency, non-traditional work hours, and transportation access?
Success story: Family Playlists by PowerMyLearning
One success story comes from PowerMyLearning, a nonprofit supported by Stand Together. This initiative, known as “Family Playlists,” introduces an inventive approach to connecting parents, students, and teachers. It flips the conventional homework model by providing lessons, games, and exercises through mobile devices, available in over 100 languages. Instead of the usual dynamic where adults teach students, Family Playlists encourages students to teach their parents, caregivers, or guardians what they’ve learned. Afterwards, the adults share feedback with teachers about the students’ performance.
This initiative creates a stronger connection between parents, students, and teachers, establishing a learning triangle that enriches comprehension and nurtures a genuine passion for learning.
The primary objective is to enhance mastery and develop social and emotional skills. Students independently absorb the material and subsequently teach it to a family member or guardian. The adult then provides feedback to the teacher via the playlist, enabling them to better address the student’s requirements.
Upon the initial rollout of Family Playlists in 2017, a significant enhancement in the learning dynamics among students, teachers, and families was evident. Every participating family reported that the program significantly improved their understanding of their child’s schoolwork. Parent, child, and teacher relationships improved, reinforcing the essential educational bond.
At The Learning Outpost, every student’s education is unique. The principal, Felicia Wright, chats with each parent during an hour-long tour to understand what they want for their child’s growth. This helps decide how they’ll teach that student.
Wright works with parents and students to know what they want most from education. This can affect what subjects they study, how they learn, and even when they come to school. They’ve added flexible days, giving families more options to mix school with homeschooling or other types of learning.
“Our decisions come from what parents want for their child,” Wright explains. “We follow their lead and that shapes our path.”
With only one teacher for every ten students, the school feels like a small community. In her past jobs, Wright had 33 students, which made it tough to know each one. But now, in this small school, they know all the kids and parents well, making a strong community feeling.
Tools to facilitate family engagement in schools
Over the past decade, technology has played a crucial role in bridging the gap between schools and families. From using mobile apps to conduct family surveys to leveraging online classroom spaces, technology-enabled family engagement offers a new dimension to traditional parental involvement in schools.
Various tools and platforms can facilitate meaningful, two-way communication between schools and families. From communication apps like Remind and ClassDojo to video tools like Educreations and Flipgrid, technology can significantly enhance family engagement in schools.
The future of family engagement in schools
As we look ahead, the future of family engagement in schools is bright. With an increasing number of success stories and the growing role of technology, we can expect to see more innovative strategies that bring families, schools, and communities together to shape a child’s educational journey. By fostering a robust ecosystem of family engagement, we can empower every child to realize their potential and make a positive impact on society.