Engaged or Not? That is Often the Question

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

communityRegardless of whether we are school or family, there are times when we need to step back and ask ourselves whether we are authentically engaged or not, how we are engaged, or how we might engage more fully. This might apply to homework, communication with children, communication with family or  school, involvement at school, engagement in community events, or invitations for engagement. What is clear is that we all require an understanding of the diverse forms of engagement, and we must be aware that what may appear as lack of engagement to one may be something completely different to another. It is in these times that we need to exercise deep listening to explore, understand, and appreciate from as many different perspectives as possible. Continue reading

A Warm and Safe Welcome

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

sick snowmen

First impressions are often lasting impressions, especially at a time when schools, in order to keep students safe, are required to lock their doors, often leaving families feeling like they are out in the cold. But that was never the intent as indicated by Dalton McGuinty, former premier of Ontario: When parents send their kids off to school they are putting their trust in us, and we have to get it right. That’s why our government is committed to providing safe, welcoming places to learn for all our kids. It’s up to us to take all reasonable steps available to us to protect our kids. Locking school doors is a reasonable step.  Continue reading

Feel the Difference, Share the Experience, Imagine the Future

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


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

A New Year’s Resolutions: Tips for Attaining Family-School Engagement Goals

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

week 1The start of a new year (regardless of whether it is a calendar year or an academic year) is a fresh opportunity, a clean palette, and a time to go exploring. It is a perfect time to establish new routines and try new strategies that will bring family and school closer together. It is a time to take a close look at what we do well, what we need to work on, and perhaps what we need to start or even stop doing. Families and schools need to engage in collaborative goal-setting in order to move forward in mutually respectful ways. Continue reading

Engaging Families, Engaging Schools: The Year in Review

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 6.41.15 PM dear past Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 6.40.03 PM

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

ABCs of Engaged Families in the 21st Century

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


The sheer bombardment of information about parenting and raising a family is intimidating, particularly for those who are looking for a simple answer to what they feel is a simple question. How can schools, school councils, school boards, community agencies, or even other families help families to weed through all this stuff in a way that does not imply judgment, influence, interference, or thinking that we know best? Sharing an ABCs of families, or getting families to construct their own, might be a great place to start. Continue reading

Habits of Flourishing School Community Councils

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

School community council members demonstrate a steadfast commitment to support schools. They work hard on behalf of families to plan events, enhance communication between families and school, support home-school-community-faith partnerships, contribute to fundraising efforts, and promote student well-being and achievement. Councils are not without their struggles though, most commonly how to increase membership and involvement. Continue reading

Family-School Ways to Well-Being – We’re All in This Together!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Student well-being is an increasing concern for home and school. Many children and youth experience bouts of anxiety, stress, and isolation at some point over the course of their educational careers. Families and schools that make well-being a priority emphasize strong relationships, positive communication, risk-taking, self-confidence, and management of physical health and emotions. This can seem like a daunting task, but with a systematic plan that emphasizes what we already do, families and schools can work together in an ongoing and seamless manner. Continue reading

‘Tis The Season… Progress Reports and Conferences

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Children, youth, and families often await the first reporting cycle with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. While they may have kept in touch with the school, supervised homework, or reviewed work sent home periodically, there is still a wonder about how it will all translate into a formal grade and a comment on a report card. Also in question is often what it will look and sound like when families sit face-to-face to discuss the academic progress of their child as well as their social-emotional well-being on the landscape of school. Continue reading

Family-School Math Adventures

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


questionsNo matter where you turn today, mathematics is a hot topic – in school, in media, in the world, and in the homes of families and children. Changes to the mathematics curriculum over the years from skill and drill-based activities to problem-solving and process work leave many families scratching their heads about the new math. What’s a family to do? What’s a school to do? Continue reading