Tag: family engagement

Fostering Home-School Connections: Practical Tips for Administrators

During our in-person Professional Learning Showcase earlier this month, our Professional Learning Partnerships lead, Pat Pollack, facilitated a session about the importance of ongoing home-school connection initiatives. As a group, we considered the difference between a parent and/or caregiver who is involved, and a parent and/or caregiver who is engaged. In the latter scenario, schools provide intentional and inclusive opportunities for parents/caregivers to offer their own input, develop their own knowledge and understanding, and become part of the school’s decision-making process. 


To build on this conversation, we’ve offered a few practical tips and considerations for creating meaningful engagement and home-school connection opportunities that you can bring to, or enhance in your schools. 


Start by Listening


To pave the way for parent/caregiver engagement, it’s important to understand how and when opportunities can be offered to parents to fit their needs best. Start by listening and asking questions, like, “What time of day is convenient for you to become involved with..” or “What can our school community do to support your involvement with us?” Often, families want to take a larger role in their school communities but may not know how they can be involved, especially if busy schedules restrict them, or if they are unaware of the areas they can participate in. Opening up the lines of communication can go a long way in building a trusting relationship. 


Provide Ongoing Communication


Similarly, ongoing communication is essential. Regular newsletters and/or school website updates are a good place to start to keep families in the know. Also consider ways to personalize this content by providing videos and/or blogs designed to help families to get to know school staff on a more personal level, especially school leadership. Maybe there’s a monthly video note from the principal that gets shared on the website and via a newsletter, for example, to help create a more personal connection. 


Enhance Families’ Literacy Content Knowledge and Invite Involvement 


Families may learn about their students’ progress during parent-teacher meetings, but taking it a step further and offering families educational opportunities to enhance their own literacy content knowledge is an essential part of creating a strong connection with their students’ progress and growth. These educational opportunities can be hosted through friendly, informal coffee chats or gatherings, where families feel comfortable asking questions. You may also invite a partner or consultant in to facilitate different educational topics and discussions – this is something we love doing with our schools!


Create Knowledge-Building Opportunities through Environmental Supports


Encouraging families and caregivers to be engaged in their childs’ literacy journey and broader education experience starts with making them feel a part of your physical school community. There are many opportunities to curate welcoming spaces with intention – spaces like the lobby area or front entrance walls of your schools are great places to feature student work, culturally inclusive content, your staff’s reader and writer identity displays, or even shelves of books that their children are reading, to name a few ideas. 


Inspire Celebration


We strongly believe in celebrating student work and progress in visible ways, and this is a wonderful opportunity for families to share these exciting moments. For example, you may host a writing celebration or publishing party for students and their families.


There are many more ideas to be shared about fostering meaningful home-school connection – we hope the above tips give you some inspiration for initiatives to try out in the new school year.

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