A number of education journals and news websites have focused on the subject of family engagement since hybrid and fully-remote schooling became the new normal this fall.  Following are a few highlights and links to more information, starting with a recent article in Edweek, which observes, “COVID-19 has made it more obvious that the public school system cannot fulfill its mission without families.”

“Family-School Relationships Are the Missing Link in COVID-19 Era Education”

This piece, from Edweek, emphasizes the crucial role that families play in supporting the success of young people. Rejecting the impoverished lens through which family engagement has historically been viewed, they authors state that “Overall, engagement has been marred by broken trust, racial bias, and educators’ cultural assumptions about what a “good” family does. Re-envisioning this dynamic requires centering the families traditionally left out by those cultural assumptions.” Sounding a more optimistic note, they suggest, “COVID-19 can be a catalyst for us to jettison old, school-centered ways of doing things that haven’t worked well.” Edweek’s recommendations for shifting the culture surrounding family engagement to one of partnership and co-creation are worth reading – and passing along to your school or district. Read the full Article >

“How Schools Can Communicate More Effectively With Families”

Education policy site the74million.org has published two recent articles highlighting the vital role that parents and caregivers play in children’s learning and growth. This piece offers some concrete communication tips for effective parent/caregiver communication. Read it here >

“Pandemic is Strengthening the Home-School Connection”

The second article from the74million shares some bad news and good news about the impact of COVID on learning. On one hand, research indicates that students are experiencing massive learning loss due to the hasty pivot to remote learning last spring. On the other, parents and caregivers report feeling more in touch with their children’s learning than ever before – and greater interest in partnering with teachers to support their children’s success. Read the full story >

“Why Teaching Kindergarten Online Is So Very, Very Hard”

Edutopia offers some teacher-tested tips on partnering with families to support the youngest learners trying to stay engaged online. A common theme among the strategies recommended is the simple act of listening to what parents have to say about how to help their children learn. Simplifying modes of communication while keeping learning expectations high are just a couple of this article’s recommendations. Read more >

“When students don’t show up on Zoom, some educators go knocking on doors”

Vermont Digger, a media outlet serving one of our neighbors to the North, offers a heartwarming ground-level view of the lengths some educators go to build relationships and keep students engaged. Spotlighting several who make home visits to make themselves more accessible to students and families, the article opens with a school counselor who carries a 6.5’ board in the back of us pickup truck to orchestrate physically distanced, front-yard conversations. Quoting Steven Sheldon, an associate professor in the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University, the article notes that “Family engagement is not the silver bullet to solving all of our educational problems. But I don’t think you’re going to solve our educational problems without family engagement.” Read the story >