Create a Lasting Impact Through Family Engagement
We often hear the term “Family Engagement”, but what does that really mean and how in the world do you build a strong family engagement program that supports learners and their families? We define Family Engagement as the process used to build genuine relationships with families. Teacher/school relationships with families support overall family well-being and children’s healthy development. Family engagement is based on the idea that parents and others who care for their children work together to prepare children for success. In order to successfully connect and maintain a connection with families, everyone has to work together. Teachers, administrators, community members, families, and even students have a role to play in this.
Family Engagement Positively Impacts Students
But why is family engagement important? Why is this something that, as teachers, we should be putting more energy into? Over the years our public education system has changed drastically, but family engagement has remained a critical factor in student achievement. Ongoing research shows that family engagement in schools improves student achievement, reduces absenteeism, and restores parents’ confidence in their children’s education. Students with involved parents or other caregivers earn higher grades and test scores, have better social skills, and show improved behavior. I’m going to give you an example. I’m sure you know someone on the PTA who is actively involved in your school or maybe you know a homeroom mom. I want you to think about the child or children of that actively involved parent you know. What stands out? What do you notice about them? In my experience, these students tend to excel, they are always present, they are actively involved in extracurricular activities, they are involved in the arts—overall they’re well–known and high–achieving students. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that they’re high–performing and well–rounded only because their parent is actively involved, BUT it’s no coincidence that these students tend to stand out.
What do you think motivates parents to be involved in their child’s education or school? Well, families tend to increase their engagement with a school when they believe that their efforts will have a direct and positive impact on their children’s education and overall well-being. So, all those PTA and homeroom moms you might assume have too much time on their hands are more likely involved because they know it’s positively impacting their children and their children’s education. Accordingly, an overall family engagement plan, at the district or school level, helps to provide structure and follow-up so that family engagement can be woven more directly into ongoing school activities.
I’m currently a Marketing Manager with hand2mind living in the greater Chicago area. I’m a former teacher and taught both 2nd and 6th grade math. I also spent many years as a math coach and had the pleasure of working with school districts across the country. In addition to my experience in education, I’m the mother of 2 girls ages 10 and 4. I rely on my experiences as both a teacher and a parent to write as I know many of our readers have experience with both! In my free time I coach my daughter’s softball team and spend a lot of time outdoors! I also enjoy rolling my sleeves up and tackling many DIY projects around the house!