Family engagement in education means that family members are committed to helping their child learn – wherever that may happen – wherever it is valued.
IT IS NOT having parents show up at school activities. It is NOT baking cookies or listening quietly to teacher lecture on curriculum nights. It is NOT parents coming to school events.
IT IS an indispensable component of student success. It means respecting families as partners along with school personnel
It requires the school personnel to get to know and value families’ ways of being, knowing and doing
Parents showing up is a bonus, except when it is necessary to stop ill-treatment of the student.
Regardless of what administrators and teachers might like, family lives are not centered in school buildings.
Whether a family engages with the school where their children are meant to learn largely depends on whether they feel that,
- the education their children are receiving will benefit them personally and in the long run.
- they and their children feel like they belong to the school community and are treated as respected members.
Schools can help families to engage with their children’s learning:
- Facilitate family-to-family support
- Establish a network of community resources, e.g., designate safe spaces for community dialogue or moderated discussions
- Increase family participation in decision making, gather family opinions
- Equip families with tools to enhance and extend learning
- Sponsor fun weekend events throughout the community
Then, the school can move on to ask family members to come in to volunteer in the learning enterprise, like read to kids in class or library, share in story hour, help in the arts. To get into the abundant research on engagement and belonging start with Goodenow, 1993; Johnson, Crosnoe, Elder, Jr., 2001; Mapp and Bergman, 2021