By Heather Ippolito, Vice President for Family Engagement
In PTA we often talk about family engagement, but what does it really mean and why is it so very important?
Family engagement with schools has many definitions:
- The US Department of Health and Human Services: Family engagement is the process used to build genuine relationships with families. Relationships with families support overall family well-being and children’s healthy development. When families are engaged, partnerships are created that have a common focus– helping children grow and thrive.
- In 2010 the National Family, School and Community Engagement Working Group (now the NAFSCE Policy Council) defined family engagement like this: “Family engagement is a shared responsibility in which schools and other community agencies and organizations are committed to reaching out to engage families in meaningful ways and in which families are committed to actively supporting their children’s learning and development.”
- National PTA defines transformative family engagement as a shared effort of families, schools and community leaders to advance programs, practices, and policies that empower every parent to make their child’s potential a reality.
Research shows family engagement is a major factor in student success, with an encouraging home environment serving as a bigger factor in student achievement than a parent’s income, education level or cultural background. It also tells us that family engagement:
- Promotes healthy development and wellness in children
- Increases graduation rates for those students whose families are involved on campus
- Decreases dropout rates and behavior issues in students whose families participate on campus
- Increases a child’s academic and social skills
What does this all boil down to for our PTA unit, council and district leaders? Family engagement is something you do daily. Your programs and events help bring families to your campus and better understand educational issues that impact their children. When you help create and foster relationships between families, the school and the greater community, the students at your school thrive.
Our goal as the California State PTA Family Engagement Commission is to give you concrete ideas to make this task easier. Every Friday on the blog we will share family engagement tips, best practices, and resources that will help you as you plan activities on your campus. We are so excited to work alongside you this term!
- This year at your first executive board meeting set three family engagement goals. Some examples of family engagement goals are:
- Increase involvement of fathers, grandfathers, and other male family members in PTA and school events
- Increase parent and family participation in the Local Control Accountability Plan and Local Control Funding Formula meetings
- Take at least three actions this year to make your existing programs more accessible for families of children with special needs. For example, open up your Fall Harvest Festival 30 minutes early for these families so they can enjoy the activities with smaller crowds and less sensory stimulation.
Share with us your goals and you might be recognized in our social media (or win a prize). Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
- We also want to hear about your best family engagement activities. Complete this simple form and your school may be featured here on the blog, in our social media or on our website.
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