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Dec 14, 2017 |
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Communication between schools and families should be a two-way street. Too often parents miss the messages that come from school—whether written or verbal—and teachers miss messages from parents. Sometimes communications get lost, and sometimes they may be put aside because they are not presented in a way that parents can understand. Parents often are frustrated with how best to communicate with school staff and teachers. A number of variables can affect how messages are both delivered and received from school-to-home and from home-to-school. NCFL-Education Solutions_Blog Graphic (Custom) How information is communicated to parents, and what communication strategies are used with families, are important. Use a variety of ways to communicate with parents, taking into consideration their home language and their literacy levels. Strive to communicate in ways that all parents can understand. Consider the following seven practices for communicating with families.

  1. Welcome parents to the school with positive signs. A sign that says, “Welcome to our school! Please visit our receptionist before going to your child’s classroom,” is much more positive than, “All visitors must report to the office.”
  2. Train staff to answer the telephone in positive ways. Ensure that personnel answering phones are knowledgeable about the activities in the school, so they can quickly find answers for parents.
  3. Use technology such as email, class websites, and apps, like Seesaw and Edmodo, to provide information to and communicate with parents. If allowed, social media, such as Facebook and Instagram, can be valuable tools for communicating with families.
  4. Provide teachers with easy access to a school phone with long distance service to make telephone communication with parents easier, as families often keep their same cell phone number after having moved from a different state.
  5. When communicating with parents, either orally or in print, limit the use of educational jargon to make the communication easy to understand.
  6. Translate all home communications into the home language of the child’s family, if possible. Provide interpreters on-site when necessary.
  7. Write notes, letters, flyers, calendars, and other written communications at a low reading level and use lots of white space. Make accommodations for parents who do not read, have a learning disability, or have a physical disability such as deafness or blindness.
When schools reflect a welcome environment, parents not only feel wanted and needed, but also feel like important contributors to their children’s school success. Which of these practices might work for your school? What steps might you take to implement it?  


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NCFL Partners

Toyota Family Learning Program

Toyota, one of the nation's most successful corporations, began a partnership with NCFL in 1991. In addition to a commitment of more than $35 million, Toyota has also contributed a wealth of in-kind support — including advertising, planning and management expertise — to form one of the most progressive corporate/nonprofit partnerships in the nation.

Three major programs have been developed through the Toyota partnership based on the family literacy model of parents and children learning together. These models have influenced federal and state legislation, leveraged local dollars to support family literacy and led to successful programs being replicated across the country.

Read More about Toyota and NCFL

Dollar General Literacy Foundation

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation began partnering with NCFL in 2006. A signature effort of this partnership is the National Literacy Directory, a resource that launched in 2010 and strives to reach the 35.7 million adults ages 18-64 who do not have a high school diploma by guiding them to better-paying, more stable jobs.

The National Literacy Directory contains over 10,000 educational agencies located across the United States and has a dedicated toll-free number to help support those wanting to pursue educational opportunities in their communities.

Dollar General also provides support for development of NCFL’s innovative family learning resources centered on financial literacy and Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®.

Go to Dollar General Literacy Foundation's website

PNC Grow Up Great

PNC Grow Up Great believes deeply in the power of high-quality early childhood education and provides innovative opportunities that assist families, educators and community organizations to enhance children's learning and development.

PNC Grow Up Great has partnered with NCFL since 1994 to advance early literacy and learning resources for vulnerable families. Current efforts supported by PNC include a collaborative initiative in two at-risk Detroit communities that engages families to support vocabulary development for children under age 5.

NCFL's work is also featured on the PNC Grow Up Great Lesson Center website. The Lesson Center includes over 100 free, high-quality preschool lesson plans and research-based instructional techniques and strategies. All lesson plans contain Home/School Connections printouts, in English and Spanish, to help families extend and reinforce the learning at home.

PNC Grow Up Great

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

NCFL has partnered with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation since January 2016. The Foundation is currently supporting a dynamic two-generation family engagement initiative that expands NCFL's Family Learning model into select Head Start programs nationwide. NCFL's model presents an innovative way to support Head Start programs in meeting outcomes aligned with the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework.

Visit the Foundation website

Better World Books

Better World Books selected NCFL as its domestic literacy partner in 2005 and has raised more than $1 million to support NCFL’s work and donated more than $15 million to support literacy and education efforts worldwide. Better World Books is a triple-bottom-line online bookstore, working equally for people, planet and profit. Each book purchased powers literacy across the world.

Better World Books’ support of NCFL has provided books and workshops to families after Hurricane Katrina, donated large book donations to literacy programs and families nationwide and fueled innovative family literacy and learning programs and resources in libraries, schools and community-based organizations. In addition to their work for literacy and education, Better World Books diverts books from landfills and offers carbon-balanced shipping.

Better World Books

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

In 2013, NCFL began a partnership with the Gates Foundation to ensure that our network of students, teachers, and families thrive among recent shifts in standards-based education. NCFL will leverage the unique strengths of our award-winning Wonderopolis® platform to build upon the growing teacher network that uses the resource for core daily instruction and as a basis for professional growth.

Foundation Website

Goodling Institute

NCFL has partnered with the Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University since 2001, working collaboratively to further research, professional development, and policy efforts for family literacy and intergenerational learning.

The work of this partnership includes, but is not limited to, a strong research strand at NCFL's national annual convening, the Families Learning Summit; advocacy for family literacy and learning to further support for and inclusion of family-focused education in new and ongoing legislation; and dissemination of the latest research, resources, information, and professional development opportunities for literacy and learning practitioners and advocates, including the Certificate in Family Literacy provided by the Goodling Institute.

Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University