The Benefits of Family Engagement in Early Education

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A positive relationship and engagement between parents and educators is essential, especially in the earliest years of education. Children need a lot of support and guidance as they are developing their motor, social, emotional, physical and cognitive skills.

The Importance 

A positive relationship and engagement between parents and educators is essential, especially in the earliest years of education. Children need a lot of support and guidance as they are developing their motor, social, emotional, physical and cognitive skills.

In early childhood, it can be difficult for parents to understand where their child is academically and how that relates to what is developmentally appropriate. It is important for educators to build relationships with families and help parents understand how they can support the learning that is happening in the classroom in their home as well. A unified front between families and educators will create the conditions where a love of learning can develop in our youngest students.

→ See how we support Family Engagement in Schools

Strategies to Increase Family Engagement 

True family engagement views parents and schools as co-facilitators of learning. Here are several ways that your school can build authentic family engagement:

Build Genuine Relationships with Families 

Cultivating a relationship with families takes time and effort. Most schools have an Open House and then parent-teacher conferences every quarter to discuss the child’s development and performance. This is not enough time or touchpoints to build a trusting relationship where teachers fully understand a family’s needs and where parents can share their knowledge, strengths, and what is important for them and their child.

Routinely Send Positive Communication

Sometimes the only time educators call parents is when there is an academic or behavioral issue. Instead, call or communicate with parents routinely and share the positive things their child did that day or week. This way, parents are excited for phone calls from the school. This will give positive deposits to the parent-teacher relationship and make the calls when negative behavior or grades are communicated easier because you have already spent time building the relationship and sharing what their child is doing well.

[Pro Tip] Send quick positive messages to parents through the Kickboard Family Portal.

Share Daily Schedules

An easy way to engage families in early education is to share the classroom’s daily schedule. This will inform parents on how their child’s day is structured, the length of time their child participates in different activities, and gives them an option for how to structure their weekends and summers similarly. You can also share lesson content in the schedule.

Invite Parents into the Classroom

One big way to boost family engagement is to implement an open door policy for parents to come and volunteer in the classroom when they have availability throughout the day. This will help educators facilitate art activities, center rotations, read alouds, and more. Parents will feel valued and appreciated and will have the opportunity to be a part of the learning.

Assign More Interactive Homework 

Parents will appreciate a weekly or monthly newsletter that has more interactive and engaging activities to do that connect to the theme and the learning that is happening. For example, if your curriculum’s theme is Building, suggest finding shapes in the grocery store, creating a house with materials from their home, or walking around their neighborhood to spot different shapes that make up buildings. You could ask parents to send you pictures of them completing some of the activities as a family and share it with the class during morning circle time.

Additionally, send a note home asking if any parents work as a construction worker, engineer, architect, etc, and would like to speak to the class about their career.

Family Learning Night 

Once the school year is several weeks or months in, host a Family Learning Night. Parents will have already had the logistical questions about schedules, teachers, and more answered so this will be a great time for parents to ask questions about the curriculum, themes of the classroom, and the priorities for their grade.

Teachers can take this opportunity to model teaching strategies for parents. During read alouds, teachers use feedback loops, or a series of questions that build on students’ answers to increase their understanding of a topic. The feedback loop consists of 3 back and forth exchanges with feedback to the student.

Here is an example of a feedback loop that can easily be modeled for parents on Learning Night while reading a book about community helpers:

  • Teacher: “What community helper do you see on this page?”
  • Student: “I see a fireman.”
  • Teacher: “What does a fireman do?”
  • Student: “A fireman keeps people safe.”
  • Teacher: “How do they keep people safe? What tool do they use to help people?”
  • Student: “They use a hose to spray water on building that are on fire from their firetruck.”
  • Teacher: “What color is the firetruck?”

This example will give parents a great model on how they can have better, richer conversations with their children as they are reading books to them at home. This will help parents make connections in conversations to shapes, letters, numbers, the themes that students are learning in their curriculum, and get students to practice their speaking and listening skills.

Focus on Positive Literacy Experiences at Home and School 

Studies have shown that when children have positive literacy experiences, it will help set them on the path to be reading on grade level by third grade. Research shows that families can promote early literacy with their children by making reading enjoyable, having ongoing and engaging conversations, visiting the library, creating a reading space in their home, and holding high expectations for their child.

Search for videos on youtube about ways families can engage their young children in reading. When parents and teachers are using the same strategies when reading and discussing books, they mutually support the child’s learning. Parents and teachers could watch a video together, practice asking questions and feedback loops while reading a book to their child, and brainstorm additional activities and ideas to do at home.

Create a Platform for Feedback 

Families should be given the space and should feel comfortable enough to share feedback about their child’s school. Figure out the best platform that works for your community and ask for genuine feedback on how they feel about the school, their involvement in the school community, how they are engaged as parents.

These strategies will help build a positive relationship and engagement between parents and educators. Parents, alongside teachers and administrators, can ensure their child is having fun learning inside and outside of the classroom. This partnership in the early education years can positively impact the learning outcomes for a child’s whole educational career!