Education Solutions: Purposeful planning for family engagement
Pool floats, charcoal, and garden supplies will soon be replaced in store aisles with pencils, notebooks, crayons, and planners. For many educators, the arrival of these items suggests the end of the summer and the beginning of preparations for a new school year. Educators have classrooms to decorate, supplies to buy, and plans to make.
As part of that preparation, educators can plan for family engagement. Programs and schools can welcome families into the school community. Educators can establish supportive and positive strategies for communicating with families. They can plan face-to-face interactions that will build trust. Purposeful preparation will help educators build partnerships with families.
Below are some suggestions that focus on family engagement as you begin back-to-school preparations:
- Two-way communication with families is key! Consider re-doing your open house or back-to-school session so that family members have opportunities for conversation. Ask questions, such as what are your goals for your child this school year? Or what is your vision for your child’s life when he or she is 25 years old? Allow family members to turn and talk with a partner before a few people share with the larger group. By listening to families, rather than just telling them policies and procedures, educators show that they value them.
- Consider how families might be involved in your classroom. Create a V.I.P Survey offering adult caregivers a list of ways to participate. Think beyond traditional room parents and field trip chaperones. Offer opportunities that can be done at home from cutting materials to researching new educational apps. Ask caregivers what their strengths are and what they would like to do. The more opportunities that you can provide, the better chance you have of engaging caregivers.
- Leaders and administrators can plan meetings or professional development session focused on family engagement. The Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) program offers a free, online toolkit to help plan effective programming. The Toolkit of Resources for Engaging Families and Community as Partners in Education includes activities to encourage reflection, conversations, and planning around family engagement.
Building partnerships with families is essential for children’s success in school. By actively planning ways to engage families at the start of the year, educators will be ready to create ongoing partnerships which impact student learning. In the comments section, share an idea you have for engaging families. You can then get feedback and suggestions from the members of our Education Solutions community.
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