By: Megan Horstmeier
During this unique time it is more important than ever to engage your families and community with the happenings of the school. We can no longer rely on curriculum nights and donuts with dads. It is important to create a plan that allows all families to have access to the school and school events.
We need to think of engagement as broader than the number of times parents show up at school sponsored events. Are there ways parents can help from home? Can they volunteer their time outside of the building? Can the schools help parents to engage with their students around the curriculum? Family engagement can not be a stand alone initiative. It has to be embedded into all parts of the district’s strategic plan. How can you engage parents in literacy? Math? PBIS?
Joyce Epstein’s National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) model includes 6 types of family engagement to help think beyond basic family engagement activities:
Type 1-Parenting activities help parents understand child and adolescent development and help educators understand their students’ families.
**Could you bring in experts from community partners that can help parents understand the development of their child, such as the effects social media has on young minds or how to help children set boundaries?
Type 2-Communicating activities increase two-way communications between teachers and parents about school programs and children’s progress.
**Could you provide opportunities for parents to interact with school leadership beyond conferences? Try a focused round table or a listening session!
Type 3-Volunteering activities organize school options and parents’ time and talents to improve the school program and to recognize audiences as valuable volunteers.
**Think about how parents can volunteer their time without coming to the school. Can they prepare flyers, cut out manipulatives so each kid has their own set, work community events for the school, attend sporting events or a school play? Reach out to parents and see how they want to volunteer, I am sure you have talented parents that are willing to share their talents with the school. All of these ideas are examples of parents volunteering their time.
Type 4-Learning at Home activities engage parents with students on homework, other curricular activities, and talent development.
**Think about how you can change homework from a separate task that students do to an interactive activity that involves the family. Below are some websites that demonstrate ways to engage families with at home learning:
The Family Dinner Project
Reading is Fundamental
TIPS- NNPS create TIPS which engage families in the curriculum. (Reach out to Megan Horstmeier at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Type 5-Decision Making activities extend parents’ leadership skills and roles on school
committees, and include the voices of all parents on school decisions and advocacy issues.
**Consider adding parents and community members to your DLT, PBIS team and building level teams. This can add a different perspective and help create well rounded plans.
Type 6-Collaborating with the Community activities mobilize resources to improve the school curriculum, serve families, and increase learning opportunities for students.
**All communities have organizations and groups that can help provide for families. Team up with local organizations, churches and local health professionals to ensure that all the needs of your students are met.
As you plan family engagement events for the rest of the year think outside the box and challenge yourself to include each type at least once this year!
For more information around NNPS check out the website: