All Children in
the U.S. should be provided the opportunity to:
Be served by a program and
within a system that connects with and deeply engages families in decisions
about their child’s education and learning.
The national Family, School, and Community
Engagement Working Group defines[i]
family engagement as:
- A shared responsibility in which schools and
other community agencies and organizations are committed to engaging families
in meaningful and culturally respectful ways, and families are committed to
actively supporting their children’s learning and development.
- Continuous across a child’s life, spanning
from Early Head Start programs to college preparation high schools.
- Carried out everywhere that children learn –
at home, in pre-kindergarten programs, in school, in after-school programs,
in faith-based institutions, and in community programs and activities.
Family engagement from birth to third grade has also been
described as "parents’ efforts to promote their children’s healthy
development and learning through activities that can be encouraged by educators
in child care, preschool and school settings."[ii] Different types of involvement include: home-based parent involvement, community activities, and school-based parent involvement.
Who is in the “system”?
For children in kindergarten, family engagement is imperative as
children transition from preschool or other programs to kindergarten and then
from kindergarten to first grade.
Additionally, children in kindergarten are also engaged in a variety
of programs outside of kindergarten – from child care to community
activities. All programs where children learn are part of the system.
Why family engagement?
Research shows that family engagement provides a
number of benefits for young children, including literacy and math skills.[iii]
A recent study by MDRC of nearly 100 family involvement research studies
found that “parents from diverse backgrounds, when given direction, can
increase their involvement with their children’s learning at home and at
school and that, when parents are more involved and more engaged, children
tend to do better academically and socially.”[iv]
How can families be engaged?
The NAEYC Engaging
Diverse Families project identified 6 principles that programs who
effectively engage families use[v]:
- Programs invite families to participate in
decision making and goal setting for their child
- Teachers and programs engage families in
- Programs and teachers engage families in ways
that are truly reciprocal
- Programs provide learning activities for the
home and in the community
- Programs invite families to participate in
program-level decisions and wider advocacy efforts
- Programs implement a comprehensive
program-level system of family engagement
through training and support is necessary for kindergarten program staff (and
administrators) on how to effectively engage with parents. A recent review of family engagement
programs concludes that “the existing
studies, however, are clear that professional development for teachers about
the transition process and time to plan and conduct transition activities
would help many more preschool and kindergarten teachers to connect with
parents and prepare young children to move to a new school.”[vi]
Henderson, A., & Mapp, K. (2002). A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family, and community
connections on student achievement. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational
Development Laboratory (SEDL). Retrieved from http://www.sedl.org/connections/resources/evidence.pdf
National Association for the Education of Young Children. (nd). Engaging diverse families. Washington,
DC: Author. Retrieved from https://www.naeyc.org/familyengagement
Smith, S., Robbins, T., Stagman, S. & Mahur, D. (2013). Parent engagement from preschool through grade 3: A guide for policymakers. Report. New York: National Center for Children in Poverty.
Van Voorhis, F.L., Maier, M.F., Epstein, J.L., and Lloyd, C.M.
(2013). The impact of family
involvement on the education of children ages 3 to 8. New York, NY: MDRC.
Retrieved from http://www.mdrc.org/sites/default/files/The_Impact_of_Family_Involvement_FR.pdf
Weiss, H., and Lopez, M.E. (2009). Redefining family engagement in
education. Family Involvement Network of Educators
(FINE) Newsletter, 1(2). Retrieved from http://www.hfrp.org/family-involvement/publications-resources/redefining-family-engagement-in-education
Weiss, H.B., Lopez, M. Elena & Rosenberg, H. (2010). Beyond random acts: Family,
school, and community engagement as an integral part of education reform.
Retrieved from http://www.nationalpirc.org/engagement_forum/beyond_random_acts.pdf
Weiss, H.B., Bouffard, S.M., Bridglall, B. L., & Gordon, E.W.
(2009). Reframing family involvement in
education: Supporting families to support educational equity. Equity Matters:
Research Review, No. 5.New York: The Campaign for Educational Equity, Teachers College.
Retrieved from http://www.equitycampaign.org/article.asp?id=7282
Weiss & Lopez, 2009
[ii] Smith, Robbins, Stagman, & Mahur, 2013, 3
Voorhis, Maier, Epstein, & Lloyd, 2013;
Weiss, Lopez, & Rosenberg, 2010; Smith, Robbins, Stagman, & Mahur, 2013
Voorhis, Maier, Epstein, & Lloyd, 2013 , ix
National Association for the Education of Young Children. nd
Voorhis, Maier, Epstein, & Lloyd, 2013