School to Family

Teacher in response to question, “what is one thing you are keeping from this past year and continuing to use? “We’re going to keep the structure of regular daily contact with families and wellness calls and visits.

Family engagement should focus on transparent communication and ways educators and families can collaborate to encourage students’ success and well-being. One of the silver linings of the pandemic was families’ recognition of the need for more connection to the school community, including more frequent communication. It’s important that teachers see family engagement as a priority and that leaders ensure they have the time and means to interact with families in meaningful ways. And the communication must go both ways. Family buy-in and participation is crucial to students’ success.

Guiding Questions

  • How can we build strong school to family relationships through authentic and ongoing family engagement?
  • What strategies and best practices work for communicating with our diverse network of families, with a special emphasis on marginalized populations?
Examples, Tools and Strategies
Strategies Aligned Resources

Conduct authentic ongoing outreach 

Reaching out to our families, especially those from marginalized communities, in thoughtful and meaningful ways will help build and rebuild bridges and support student success. It’s about creating an ongoing plan for engagement, moving beyond just inviting families for events or contacting them when there is an issue with their child.

Read 8 Ways to Encourage Family Engagement in Secondary Schools+ Add to Action Plan from Edutopia for practical approaches to ongoing family engagement. Depending on the needs of your district/school, consider:

  • Downloading and conducting this Family-School Relationship Survey+ Add to Action Plan from Panorama Education.
  • Meeting families where they are – in their neighborhoods, at churches and recreation centers, etc.
  • Creating a Family Advisory Council to help guide your actions in meaningful and culturally relevant ways.
  • Establishing regular Family Check-ins for ongoing monitoring of students’ well-being.
  • Designing learning events to help bridge the technology, access and language barriers that may exist.

Create accessible communication 

Providing communication that is accessible to all the families that you are serving is the key to successful family engagement. If families cannot access the information or do not see themselves reflected in the communication, it can lead to isolation and mistrust.

To be effective, communication must go beyond simply translating newsletters and e-blasts into a variety of languages. It is critical to consider the education and reading level of families, the delivery method, access to technology, culturally responsive language and representation in the messages themselves. Download this tool+ Add to Action Plan from Institute of Education Sciences and REL to help  build a cultural bridge for family engagement.

Read this post from Kathleen Morris+ Add to Action Plan for examples of creative ways districts and schools are communicating with families.