What’s in a Mindset?

There is absolutely no doubt that family-school engagement enhances family-school well-being, collective confidence, and school climate. But it does not come without its struggles. While both families and schools can identify numerous things to do each and every day and the mindsets needed to enhance the connection, it is often difficult to find our way there. We can solve the surface level barriers such as childcare, transportation, resources, and refreshments, anticipating that families will feel welcome, valued, and respected, but there are many hurdles that are buried deep below the surface, often grounded in societal, familial, and political norms, expectations, pressures, and narratives. Continue reading

Welcome to Kindergarten! Engagement from the Very Beginning


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Over the years, research has demonstrated that parents and families are the first and most powerful educators of children. As a child enters kindergarten, this learning continues, ideally in partnership between children, families, and schools. Early years teachers, early childhood educators, administration, and community agencies have the first opportunity to welcome families in, celebrate family diversity, and help them identify their strengths. They set the foundation for a child’s journey in formal education. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, there are some universals that set families and schools up for success throughout a child’s educational career. Continue reading

Feel the Difference, Share the Experience, Imagine the Future


Relationships between families and schools begin long before a child enters school in September. How does a school put their best foot forward as they begin to build relationships with potential students, help families make transitions from one setting to another, or orient families to what they have to offer as a school community? Increasingly, schools are building a presence in their communities through word of mouth as well as through service opportunities that reflect their goals and values within the larger context of the world. Messages families hear in and out of school inform the decisions they make about where to register their child, ultimately at the school they feel best suits the strengths, needs, and interests of their child and family. Continue reading

Engaging Families, Engaging Schools: The Year in Review

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As we near the end of 2014, it is a good time to look backward and forward. Looking backward allows us to celebrate the many successes we’ve experienced over the year, particularly as they are reflected in the connections between families and schools. Looking forward, I know that 2015 will be even better. Join me as we take a quick meander through the highlights of 2014. Continue reading