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Strategies for

Family Engagement

Goal

This Click and Go is designed to provide information and resources about engaging families to support literacy development through multiple approaches.

Objectives

Upon completion of the Click and Go, participants will be able to:

  • Identify organizations that provide family engagement resources and support for literacy development.
  • Identify resources that support literacy development through family engagement.
  • Consider a range of perspectives through caregiver interview podcasts.
Podcast Pin Video Podcasts
Resources Pin Resources
Ask a REL Pin Ask a REL
Podcast Pin Voices From the Field
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Podcast icon Video Podcasts

The following podcasts comprise interviews with current SRCL or CLSD grantees about successful family engagement strategies.

  • Ohio - Partnerships for Literacy

    In this video podcast you will learn how Ohio created strong partnerships across a broad range of education stakeholders positively impacts family engagement and strengthen home-school relationship. The “Partnerships for Literacy” program is a collaborative effort between the Ohio Department of Education, The Ohio State University, a Regional Student Support Team, and Local Educational Agencies. Tune in to explore how the Ohio SRCL and CLSD-supported project increased family engagement and is creating ongoing broad-based stakeholder collaborations to help students and families increase literacy achievement.

    Click to view video.

    Click to view video podcast transcript

  • Maryland - The 50 Book Initiative

    In this video podcast the Maryland State Department of Education SRCL Team and Washington County Public Schools (MD) share how implementation of “The 50 Book Initiative” increased scores on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) by over 7 percentage points. The initiative is helping families implement evidence-based literacy practices at home with their children by giving children and their families books to create life-long readers. Covid-19 necessitated that school staff conducted porch visits to deliver the books.

    Click to view video.

    Click to view video podcast transcript

  • New Mexico - Virtual Open House

    In this video podcast you will discover how New Mexico successfully transitioned a traditional, in-person Open House to a virtual event that provided the flexibility to increase family attendance and maintain the relationship-building goals of the traditional face-to-face Open House. The Virtual Open House is described by the New Mexico Public Education Department SRCL and CLSD team and the principal and parent from Vado Elementary School in Gadsden Independent Schools, New Mexico. The team shares how the success of the Virtual Open House prompted an ongoing “Coffee with the Principal” initiative to maintain open and ongoing communication with families to increase family engagement and literacy achievement.

    Click to view video.

    Click to view video podcast transcript

If you have a family engagement strategy you would like to see featured here, please email literacy@seiservices.com.

Resources Icon Resources

Click the items below to view each component's resources.

Resources/Toolkits

Indicates Literacy Specific Resource

Kindergarten Teacher’s Guide to Supporting Family Involvement in Foundational Reading Skills

The information in this Kindergarten Teacher's Guide is designed to assist teachers in supporting out-of-school literacy activities that are aligned to classroom instruction, informed by student need, grounded in evidence-based practices, and facilitated by ongoing parent-teacher communication. The Teacher's Guide provides a framework for literacy support activities presented during schools' family literacy nights and parent-teacher conferences.

https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs/projects/project.asp?projectID=5674

Regional Educational Laboratory Program

The Toolkit of Resources for Engaging Families and Community as Partners in Education provides resources for school staff to build relationships with families and community members and to support family well-being, strong parent-child relationships, and students’ ongoing learning and development. Originally developed for the Guam Alliance for Family and Community Engagement in Education, the Toolkit is based on information from a variety of sources that address engagement in diverse communities.

https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs/projects/project.asp?projectID=4509

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction

A set of family engagement materials was developed by BUILD. These materials enable schools and teachers to construct, develop and maintain improved and closer communication between teachers and parents of K-3 children covered by the Enhanced Assessment. These documents were developed under a grant from the U. S. Department of Education.

https://www.dpi.nc.gov/districts-schools/classroom-resources/early-learning-read-achieve/family-engagement-toolkit-overview

Family Engagement Toolkit

This toolkit is for the key stakeholders in a child’s life. When all stakeholders are equally aware of the roles they play in the child’s success, it creates opportunities for trust building, meaningful cultural brokering, and mutual accountability. For the purposes of this toolkit, the stakeholders are families, teachers, principals, and district leaders.

https://www.buildinitiative.org/FamilyEngagementToolkit

U.S. Department of Education: Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center

In this webinar series, learn strategies to partner with parents and families to help their children develop language and literacy skills. Find out how to use these strategies to meet school readiness goals.

https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/family-engagement/article/family-engagement-language-literacy-webinar-series

The National Center for Family and Community Connections with School

The Center links people with research-based information and resources that they can use to effectively connect schools, families, and communities.

https://sedl.org/connections/toolkits/

Center for the Study of Social Policy

From the website: “The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CCSP) works to secure equal opportunities and better futures for all children and families, especially those most often left behind. Underlying all of the work is a vision of child, family and community well-being. It’s a unifying framework for the many policy, systems reform and community change activities in which CSSP engages.”

https://www.cssp.org

Colorín Colorado

Colorín Colorado is the premier national bilingual website serving educators and families of English language learners (ELLs) in Grades PreK-12.

https://www.colorincolorado.org/

Growing and Sustaining Parent Engagement: A Toolkit for Parents and Community Partners:

From the Introduction: “The toolkit is a quick and easy guide to help support and sustain parent engagement. It provides how to’s for implementing three powerful strategies communities can use to maintain and grow parent engagement work that is already underway: Creating a Parent Engagement 1) Roadmap 2) Checklist 3) Support Network.”

https://cssp.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/growingandsustainingparentengagementtoolkit.pdf

http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/Family-School-Community-Partnerships-2.0.pdf

From the Executive Summary: “In local communities across the county, NEA affiliate members and leaders are working closely with parents, families and community members to close achievement gaps improve low-performing schools and transform relationships between schools and their communities. This report identifies and describes key partnerships that Association members have forged in 16 communities and includes the Association perspective on these efforts.”

http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/Family-School-Community-Partnerships-2.0.pdf

Ask a REL icon Ask a REL

The following questions and responses are from the webpage of the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences.

The “Ask a REL” page is a “collaborative reference desk service provided by the 10 Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs) and functions as a technical reference library. It provides references, referrals, and brief responses using citations on research-based education questions.

The questions and responses below focus on family and community engagement strategies and include references to relevant resources. Click on a question to visit the “Ask a REL” site to review the relevant research.

If you have a question that isn’t addressed below, you can ask your REL by visiting https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs/askarel/index.asp.

  1. What are best practices for community engagement?
  2. What research is available on evidence-based practices to engage families in literacy development for students in grades 6-12? Which strategies are effective for supporting language development at home for English learner students?
  3. What research and resources are available about practices to strengthen family and community engagement or activism within PK-12 education, in particular amongst culturally diverse groups?
  4. What is the research on family engagement strategies that have been shown to be effective in high-need communities?
  5. What is the research evidence on how to build and sustain relationships with communities, families, and caregivers?
  6. What research has been conducted on effective practices for families working with babies and toddlers (birth to age 3) to foster language development?
  7. What family engagement strategies have proven successful in other districts and what information is required for successfully implementing these strategies?

Voices from the Field icon Voices from the Field

The information listed below summarizes responses from four parents/caregivers who participated in a parent panel for the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy (SRCL) and Comprehensive Literacy State Development (CLSD) 2020 National Convening. The moderators and meeting participants asked the panelists questions about family engagement in literacy. The responses have been summarized for clarity and alignment to the original question.

The responses are unique to each respondent and should not be interpreted as guidance from or representations of the U.S. Department of Education’s viewpoints.

Click on the text of any question to see the responses from different parents.

Steven

Steven: Parent of two boys, one a high school senior and the other a high school freshman. One son has been on an accelerated learning track, and the other is on the autism spectrum and receives special education services.

Patricia

Patricia: Parent of two children, one a high school senior and the other a ninth grader.

Christina

Christina: Parent of six children.

Maria Elena

Maria Elena: Parent of two children, one 5-year-old and one 10-year-old.

  1. What do you consider to be a parent’s or caregiver’s role in a child's education?

    Answers

    Christina

    CHRISTINA: I think a parent is like a coach. I think it’s my job to be very involved and to communicate as much as possible with my children’s educators. I go from the front person in the office all the way down to the lunch person in the line, just to let them know they have my support as a parent. I like to communicate so that I know all the different things that a teacher could be dealing with because there are large classrooms with a lot of different children, so there are lot of different struggles.

    I think it's a parent’s job to communicate at home. I do everything I know how. I’m not really good at math and geography. But I taught a few of my children how to read. The things I know I encourage, and I just try to put it on the front line that learning is important. I think that’s a parent’s job.

    Patricia

    PATRICIA: Work hand-in-hand with the school. I am at the school so much that some of the kids think I actually work there. They’ll look for me. That not only reinforces to your child that we’re in this together but it also lets the teacher know if there is a problem, you’ll be there, not just for one student but for the rest of the scholars in the classroom. That gives the children a better sense of, yes, I can do this. They feel loved. That’s a huge component of making sure their education goes right, the love component. If I can help out at the school, versus another parent who can’t, it’s my duty to put in as much time as I can.

    Steven

    STEVEN: Another role we have as parents is to tell our children their education is valuable when they are home. It’s not just something where they go to their rooms and finish their homework. Their education is important. Their experience in the school is important. We want to reinforce at home and when we go to the school. Education is something they need to take seriously.

    Maria Elena

    MARIA ELENA: Our role is to support the schools — to communicate all the time with the teachers, with the administration. Also, letting them know what we want, what we need, our expectations. Letting them know exactly our children’s needs. Some children need something totally different from what other children need.

    If we want to make sure that kids receive what they need, we have to know what we want for our kids and communicate clearly with the teachers and the administration.

    Finally, we need to support the schools and be involved with the schools. Be part of the school. Be part of the children. Be part of the community.

  2. What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve experienced in obtaining support to help your child increase his or her literacy skills?

    Answers

    Christina

    CHRISTINA: Finding the right resources for my children, who all have very different learning styles. One of my sons struggles with ADHD, so he has a very nontraditional way of learning. The way he can obtain information is not by sitting in class and quietly taking in all of the information. So, for him, the struggle is that they don’t have enough teachers to sit with him and give him the attention and whatever he needs to process the information in the way he can. It’s something hard to do.

    On the other hand, I have another son who is advanced in comparison to his classmates. He’s bored a lot in class. He could be doing more challenging work, but I don’t know how to ask about it. It feels rude to ask the teacher if there’s something more stimulating or challenging.

    Steven

    STEVEN: I would say the biggest challenge is generally classroom size. Getting books and resources doesn’t seem to be the issue. My one son gets pulled out for reading intervention and has a reading plan for literacy. He gets more one-on-one contact with that intervention, and that pushes him along greatly.

    My other son is an advanced reader, and they don’t push students to advance more. If students are making good grades and reading on level, the attitude is that that’s enough. His classes are much larger than my other son’s. I think the biggest challenge is simply class size.

    Maria Elena

    MARIA ELENA: For me, the biggest challenge in most of the schools in [my city] is social emotional. A lot of children cannot focus because there’s a lot of trauma in the schools. I work with a group called Parents Implement Voices in Education. We are parents from around the city. We meet every month to listen to parents. This year, our big focus is mental health and social emotional support, especially special programs at school. The big challenge for us is how we can find programs to support children with those traumas that really come from home. The teachers at schools are not ready and do not have training for those traumas. We don’t see progress with these kids. Also, how do we support the families who are going through all those traumas and don’t know what to do?

    For my case, if I don’t know how to discipline my kids the right way, I’m going to continue how my mom disciplined me, spanking. That’s not correct, even though my mom taught me that way. It’s very negative. A lot of parents have those traumas. They send those kids to school with all this trauma, and those kids are big challenges for teachers, administrators, and other classmates. They’re not able to learn math, reading, writing. That’s my big challenge. A lot of trauma is in the schools across the city.

    My question is, how can we assign programs for social, emotional, mental health for the whole community, including teacher training and including children, parents, families. Children are not the problem. The problem is the adults who are wronging the children. My point is that we are in these situations right now in the country where we need support — mental, social, emotional. My question is, how are we doing that? This is my big challenge.

  3. How has the school shown you it wants to help increase your child’s literacy skills?

    Answers

    Patricia

    PATRICIA: I am fortunate that my kids go to a smaller school. We start from middle school through high school, with a total of 400 kids. We still have those same challenges. The school has been very good addressing the parents and making sure the parents’ voices are heard. Our biggest problem is that parents are not telling us what we need. Maybe five or six parents out of the 400 say what we need. The school is trying, but if parents are not saying anything, we don’t have anything to go on.

    I know that my son, who’s my oldest, is on track. He’s going to college next year. He’s doing great, but the problem is he’s doing great. No one really pays attention to him. With my youngest son, he is doing great as well, and he needs a little bit more help with focusing — he has ADHD. The school has really allowed me to be an advocate for him and show him that he needs to advocate for himself.

    Sometimes the parent, for whatever reason, doesn’t have either the wherewithal or the time to help. If the children were allowed to be involved in their process a little bit more, that would help. The children know exactly what they need even if the parent cannot be an advocate. Make sure the children know how to advocate for themselves.

    Steven

    STEVEN: Our school system is using a unique homegrown program, where it developed its own programs for individual educational estimates for each kid. One part of the individual literacy programs is that each kid gets 50 books that are at that kid’s level. In the 3 years since the school system implemented this program, it doubled its proficiency rate, specifically because the school system is working with the individual kid. It is not a one-size-fits-all type of approach. It has been incredibly effective.

  4. What are some of the most effective ways that the school communicates with you about your child’s literacy needs?

    Answers

    Maria Elena

    MARIA ELENA: Thank you for that question. We have a program from the education department we started 3 years ago, called One Way We Come Together. I am the leader for that program. We do it every year at school. We come together as the parents, and we decide our mission together. The school is a whole community. We have to be able to listen to know what exactly the community wants.

    The other way is to engage parents and the PTA, the directors, and the schools. Everybody can be on board and build community. Also, we have different committees in our community. It’s wonderful. We have a committee for communication. We have a committee for building community. We have also a Spanish community because we had to bring diversity into our community.

    I’m so excited. We have a very good director of the elementary school. She is very engaged, and she loves engaged parents. I would like to see a department in each school working on Family Engagement. Just focused on that. If we support parents, we support children.

    Christina

    CHRISTINA: Unfortunately, I don’t think the literacy skills are communicated at all. The particular school — I’m absolutely in love with. If there were a million times more of the staff already there, it would be the best school in the world. But, unfortunately, I don’t think there is communication at all unless there’s a problem, something really, really bad. They would communicate with a letter or an e-mail. It’s possible social media could be an effective way, but I don’t follow it. I usually don’t have the time to scroll through. I think just having a very consistent place to go for the information would be helpful.

  5. What, if anything, would you like to do to help your child in his or her education but are not sure how to do it?

    Answers

    Steven

    STEVEN: Well, I would say in the county here we get e-mails and texts and all of this good stuff, which can be a lot of information at one point. I think what would make it most effective is if there’s a more personalized response in some of the things, like report cards. Sometimes you will see something that just says Steve is doing fine, or he’s on grade level. But there’s not much in terms of an individual evaluation.

    That’s especially true for kids who are doing well and doing advanced stuff. You get a lot more information about kids with individualized learning programs, which is important to parents. That goes back to the idea of an individualized learning plan. The more information we have at the home that’s concise, the more helpful it is to parents. Just concise, individualized commentary would be great. Whatever platform, whether it’s the midterm report, which usually gives you a sentence or two, something like that. Any way they want to communicate is fine.

  6. What kind of school activities do you most like to attend?

    Answers

    Patricia

    PATRICIA: I love to attend all of them. I love to attend the awards assemblies. A lot of times we get a general update but because it’s so much information, sometimes things slip through the cracks. We’ll find out about an awards assembly on a Thursday, and it’s for the next day.

    I think we should have more time to prepare and maybe include the parents in the award assemblies, as well. Have a sixth-grade parent do the sixth-grade awards. It’s beautiful to see the interaction with just the staff and the students, but I think it would be more impactful with the parents involved.

    This year our school changed the awards assembly a little bit. I loved it. Instead of just calling the kid’s name and the kid comes up to get the award, they have a talent show portion to get kids engaged more and excited about rooting for their fellow scholar. I think that would be really good for more parents to be involved in, just to see it.

    Or live stream it. Sometimes parents can’t be there. If schools live stream things more, parents could connect virtually and say, “I’ll make sure I make it at the next one because that seemed pretty cool.” I do think that those things are more interactive versus just sending an e-mail with the survey. We are invested and are here with you as a team.

    Christina

    CHRISTINA: We have a [infants and toddlers] center at our school. Their activities are awesome, and it seems that they can do a lot more for the younger ages. They have tummy time, play groups. We have Title I family nights. I really appreciate these because my home can be chaotic, because we have a lot of different age groups in my family. But this family night makes us stop and spend that time together, so I enjoy that. You get to hang out with the community, so I think that’s cool.

    And then they have a few after-school programs. Every now and again, they’ll have a pizza party or something like that. Again, it’s just nice to meet some of the students that your children have been talking about and their parents. Most of the events are enjoyable.

  7. What if anything would you like to do to help your child in his or her education but are not sure how to do it?

    Answers

    Maria Elena

    MARIA ELENA: This is a wonderful question. When my son came home and said, “Mom, I’m so worried about my teacher, he’s not doing it correctly, this is so terrible.” We sometimes don’t know how to address that because we have to make sure that our kids are correct before we go to the school to ask. But also, I try to always listen, observe, look in a little bit, and then go to the right person in the school to say this is happening and it’s been happening for a long time, so how can we address this?

    There are a lot of things I’d like to help in my children’s lives. My daughter is 5 years old, and she can read now in English and in Spanish fluently. My 10-year-old son is very good at reading. He can read all day, but he’s not doing very well in grammar and writing. How is it possible for someone who reads too much not know how to write? Because he really doesn’t. We know he loves reading because we practice writing and we read to him before going to bed. We know the skills come from home. We have those kind of challenges — how can we address this? How can we support him?

    Again, we communicate with his school so that they know. We not only bring the problem but also bring part of the solution. Educators are there to support us, but we have to also make sure that when we go to these people, we bring solutions for our children because we have the needs and the solutions.

    Steven

    STEVEN: We don’t always know how the teachers are going to teach our kids certain tasks or certain subjects. Math comes to mind, but it also happens in literacy.

    I think for us to be effective at this, we have to be consistent at the way we reinforce in the house. We need to be a reflection of how the teachers are teaching the content. That’s something that’s not always relayed to us. I mean, it might be in an e-mail or something like that, but you don’t always have a good idea of how the content is being taught so that it can be reinforced at the house.

  8. What could the school do to help you become more involved in your child’s literacy education?

    Answers

    Patricia

    PATRICIA: I think they should send individual notes. We use PowerSchool, so you can get an update. You can sign up for getting it every day, every week, or every class. I definitely understand that teachers are busy. But sometimes the notes in there are just general notes, like “Your child is doing great.” Okay, I know this. Or “Your child had a great day.” Okay? And then?

    Just be a little bit more individualized with telling us what they’re working on and what is needed. This is the age of technology. Some teachers put the lessons on Google Docs. I can go in and know that this is what he’s working on, this is what I need to reinforce in the way they’re learning the lessons in school.

    We can reinforce what educators are doing, but I think that we can all work as a team and make sure the kids have exactly what they need. I just need lessons a little bit more individualized. If they put the lesson up on the school website or send it out in the school, through the school e-mail, then the parents can go in and see it. Even if the teacher doesn’t have time that day to include everything that each kid was doing, the parent can be see what the class is doing. This is what we need. The conversation around the dinner table, or whenever you have the conversation with your child, can be direct and easy. Sometimes our kids don’t tell us what’s going on. “It was fine, it was great.” What did you do today? “We worked.”

    Christina

    CHRISTINA: It’s just the communication between the teachers, principals. Just constant, specific, direct communication.

  9. Think about what’s happening in terms of reading, writing, speaking, listening with your students in school. What’s one piece of advice you’d give educators about helping them with child’s literacy?

    Answers

    Steven

    STEVEN: As I mentioned a couple times already, I think individual learning plans are by far the most important thing educators can do to make sure they can gauge each kid on the advances they’re making, why they’re making them, if they’re falling behind, why they’re falling behind, etc. It gives the literacy teachers information about how different kids digest information. It needs to be a very specialized, very specific program for each kid with consistent follow-up. That would be, by far, number one for me.

    Maria Elena

    MARIA ELENA: I think it’s so important also to follow new models. A lot of schools don’t have the ability to reinforce the education. We need to find a way to look for new models in education and to implement those models in the schools to be able to change what we do. Maybe this model was working sometimes, but now it’s not working anymore.

    Like I said before, kids can have a lot of problems with learning well because they have a lot of trauma and a lot of social emotional needs. I feel like we need those models — schools that are already doing well with mental health and social emotional support — to support these schools. We have to find why is it challenging. Sometimes we don’t know what the challenge is in the schools. It’s not always the students. It’s the teachers, the administrators, a lot of other things. We as a community working together will be able to figure out what it is.

    Patricia

    PATRICIA: I think that teachers need to exercise some compassion. Realize as adults, we can get frustrated in how we feel as an adult. That is magnified times 1 million times for a child. They’re children; they don’t know how to express their emotions. Even teenagers don’t know how to express their emotions or ask for help. If the teachers can remember how they were in school and remember how frustrating it was just to have something on the tip of your tongue and you know you know how to do it, but you can’t get it out or grasp that concept.

    And combine this internal frustration with all the other things on the outside. There may be trauma, coming from home or school or whatever else is going on in your outside life. Show a little bit more compassion to say, “Hey, I see you’re falling a little bit behind. Maybe let’s open up to a different type of learning.”

    The other thing is to have more resources for the teachers to be able to create more individual learning plans We know for a fact that there are four styles of learning — let’s do one lesson plan, but do it in four ways and give teachers the resources to feel comfortable doing that.

    Christina

    CHRISTINA: I would encourage teachers to not be afraid to step outside the box and do different, unconventional type learning styles. Even if your child doesn’t need it, it would be fun for a day or two. Just something different.

    I think, specific to literacy, it’s important that we step away from so many screens and electronics. I think it’s helpful to have a book in your hand, a piece of paper in front of your face to write it out yourself, to go outside and — just do things that aren’t screen related. Sometimes they can take away — somehow. I don’t know how that works in your brain.

    I think it’s just trying to come up with something that is helpful for each student, continuing to communicate with the parents exactly what their expectations are for your student. It seems almost impossible and like we’re asking way too much of teachers. That’s a lot of individual things that we’re asking them to do, but I think it would be helpful to have a plan specific to your child’s needs and what they’re looking for.

  10. Why do you think parents are reluctant to attend engagement activities? We talked about challenges. Are there other things we haven’t touched on why you think parents might be reluctant to attend?

    Answer

    Steven

    STEVEN: Getting parents involved has always been a big issue. If you try to get all the parents together, like in a gym, if you have a massive group of people, it’s usually one or two people in the whole place who are comfortable standing up and actually saying something. I think schools would do a good job if they involved three or four families at a time. Families would feel like their time is better spent and their voice is being heard. That’s small engagement. Schools are viewed as institutional and big. Small meeting groups are so much more productive in terms of engagement and having productive discussions about things that are happening. It’s more work, and I totally get that. You can crowd everyone in a room one night and say you did it, but the small engagement is much better.

  11. Can you give an example of an activity or event that made you feel more connected to the school and your child’s education that wasn’t held at the school? We need examples of other ways to engage families outside the school walls.

    Answer

    Patricia

    PATRICIA: The parents are invited to go to the competitions the kids are involved in. I’ve attended numerous conferences that I didn’t even know existed, like robotics conferences. It was a great way to not only be engaged with what my scholar was doing and what the other scholars at my school were doing, but it’s also a way to engage other parents in the school system whom I might not have ever engaged with. We had a chance to talk about what is working in their school and what is working in our school and how to try to collaborate and make it work for everybody. When they open things like that up, and it’s not always during the school day — sometimes after school or the weekend — I think that’s really beneficial.

  12. You’re obviously all very engaged in your children’s education. Do you find parents in your schools or in your areas who are not as involved as you? If so, how can you better engage parents maybe not really engaged?

    Answer

    Maria Elena

    MARIA ELENA: I would like to say it’s so important that we, the parents who are engaged, the leaders in the community, motivate people in the community. We have to involve those people who don’t know they have the potential to be involved in the community. Leaders have to pull everyone together. The big thing is parents being able to speak.

    When I began in school community work, there were five parents in the PTA. I said no, how are we going to do all this work alone? We need the parents — we decided to create little committees in each program we had in the school. It’s a way we can be connected and do more activities.

    If you know the community, jump in it, and motivate the parents to come to your community. If I go to a group and it’s not interesting, parents are not going back again. So it’s important to motivate parents. It is so valuable.

  13. How frequently are you getting specific literacy skill development data? Getting literacy progress reports for your children? And do you feel that the data are sufficient to help you know where your kids are and what you can do it help?

    Answer

    Patricia

    PATRICIA: We talked earlier that my school uses PowerSchool. It is there for us to see, but sometimes it’s general information. Sometimes you have to search for the data. I think if a little more information was readily available for parents who don’t know where to search, that would be super helpful for everyone. I know where to find information because I’m always at the school, but not every parent has the opportunity to be there.

    With the data on the school level, we get reports on how the school is performing academically, socially, and emotionally. Once every quarter, we’ll get a report that says “We had these standardized tests, and these are the percentage of students on grade level, or those who need help.” But there’s nothing that says how we’re going to help the student who needs help. There’s never an action plan given. I think that would be helpful if that were done. Parents can know that their kid falls into this category and what the school will do to help.

  14. My state is piloting a parent engagement tool. They’re using this tool with some of their parents who haven’t been as engaged, who don’t typically respond to communication from the tools. This tool is sent via text three times a week in their home language, with brief, fun, easy-to-engage activities. Have you heard of that tool, and/or what do you think about that idea in general?

    Answer

    Steven

    STEVEN: By far the better way to communicate is a personal phone call. We live in an age where everything is just mass e-mailed and sent, protocols and all of this stuff. That personal phone call to a family that says we understand you have an interest in this or a personal invitation that shows their input is valued and that it’s recognized within the school community. That’s huge.

    I mean, the text messages are fine in the age where we get texts not just from the schools but from anywhere else. Text messages are very easy to push aside. A personal phone call for some is far more effective.

  15. Do you think there’s a need for educators to participate in professional development on outreach and mindset?

    Answer

    Christina

    CHRISTINA: I do because being a kid is hard. Even when you’ve got it good, it’s hard. When you don’t, it’s even harder. I’ve never been an educator, but I can assume it’s easy to lose sight of that because you’re overwhelmed. You have so many different things, so many different students. You have your own personal life. Educators are expected to show compassion. Having to meet an expectation that’s continuously brought to your attention by your schools, by your higher-ups. I won’t say it’s a requirement, but it’s like an expectation. You’re not going to be able to get through to a kid if you’re struggling with all of those different kids.

    I think that training would be very important. One time, one of my kid’s teachers complimented my daughter’s behavior. She said it was nice to not have to raise her, but to be able to educate her. I say that not because I’m excited, but because I never thought of it that way. Educators have to go through so much before they can even give the actual lesson. It seems like that kind of training would help them to have different strategies or techniques to use to be able to dive through maybe a little quicker, more easily, more efficiently or go find the resources somewhere else that they may need. I think that would be important.