If you ask a roomful of people to define family engagement, you often get a roomful of answers! I’ve found many people have their own definition, which is often informed by their own experience.  This can be problematic! I mean, if one person in a school defines family engagement as attending an open house but another defines it as signing student homework sheets and another defines it as participating in the book fair, you can see how hard it would be to create a plan or measure your efforts!

For me, family engagement is any way a child’s adult caretaker supports learning and healthy development. That literally means any way! For some families, the best they can do is making sure their kids get to school or talking to their kids about why an education is so important. I also think that family engagement is a bit like an iceberg, what we see from the classroom is just the tip of that berg! There is often much more that happens below the surface that we may never see.


I think the key to creating effective family engagement starts with building trusting, respectful relationships. Families should feel like a valued partner in their child’s education and they should feel comfortable enough with their role to talk about what they are doing at home to support learning. So, if you really want to see what’s happening beneath the surface, get to know your families! They want their kids to do well just as much as you!

Do you want to share your perspective on Family Engagement for a future post? Families, educators, and community members, we want to hear your voices! Email us to share your views. 


Sherri Wilson is the Director of Engagement and State Partnerships at the National Association of Family School and Community Engagement. She is a nationally recognized expert and consultant in family engagement. She has served on a wide variety of national, state, and local boards and committees. Ms. Wilson holds an MBA with a concentration in Marketing, a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration/Marketing, a Family Development Credential from the University of Alabama.
What is Family Engagement?

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