“Read to your child.”
“Help them with their homework.”
“Make sure they get a good night sleep.”
“And what else?…”
A parent is a child’s first and most important teacher, but our approaches to family engagement often fall short of recognizing the full potential of partnerships between schools and families. The challenges we face in education require that we go beyond these basic messages on family engagement – moving from communication to collaboration among schools and families.
This is why the U.S. Department of Education is working to develop better frameworks for family engagement, and why teacher-family collaboration is a component of RESPECT , our blueprint for elevating and transforming the teaching profession. We are also renewing our Together for Tomorrow initiative with an expanded emphasis on family partnerships to propel school improvement and produce better outcomes for students.
In support of these efforts, we are pleased to announce a new partnership with the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) to advance family engagement in education across the country. NCFL brings to this work more than 20 years of experience providing tools and resources for educators and parents to create lifelong learning opportunities for the entire family.
Through the partnership, the Department and NCFL will jointly develop and implement strategies to raise the awareness and understanding of effective family and community engagement in education. This will emphasize how teachers and families can better collaborate to improve student engagement and learning. We will work together to:
- Convene community discussions on family engagement with educators, families and community leaders across the country.
- Identify and compile promising practices and program examples for effective family engagement in education, so schools can employ leading practices that work.
- Gather feedback on family engagement frameworks from educators, parents, advocates, and others in the education community.
- Develop and disseminate resource materials to support family and community engagement in education. An example includes NCFL’s Wonderopolis, an online learning community that engages classrooms and families in the wonder of discovery.
We are eager to move this essential work forward, beginning with Together for Tomorrow community conversations in locations across the country. These will spotlight promising practices and examples of school-family partnerships, and gather feedback to shape the Department’s family engagement efforts.
We also want to hear how your family-school partnerships are boosting student engagement and academic achievement. Please email us your promising practices and program examples to firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Robbins is senior advisor for nonprofit partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education