What Matters Most in Family-School Engagement?

Today’s families, schools, and communities often feel pulled in many different directions for many different purposes. Societal norms, curricular expectations, self-imposed and peer pressures, even media portrayals of what is right and wrong leave many of us wondering, What matters most? If we look both inward and outward, backward and forward, we know that that the answer to this question can often be summarized in a single statement: What matters most is that I was important in the life of another…  Continue reading

Family-School Engagement: How Do We Measure Up?

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How do we know how engaged we are as families, as schools, and as family-school communities or whether this engagement is working? We often don’t, unless we ask. Families and school communities have their own concepts of engagement, and these often vary from family to family and school to school. While measurement of engagement, like family-school engagement itself, is not a science, and there is no one size fits all, what we do know is that traditional measures of engagement underestimate what family-school communities do on a day-to-day basis. 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

Partnership, Engagement, Involvement: Is It Really Just Semantics?


Whether we are members of the school, community, or family, the goal is always the same – for families and schools to engage with children in a meaningful partnership, regardless of the descriptive term. When defining what is understood by engagement, involvement, or partnership, there must first be “a profound recognition that parents are the first teachers and that education begins before formal schooling and is deeply rooted in the values, traditions, and norms of family and culture” (Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot). Further, both schools and families must be clear on each other’s expectations for involvement and engagement in order to avoid misperception or misunderstanding. But what does it really mean to be partners in children’s learning? Continue reading