Over the past few years, cases of increased school dropout and low performance by students from marginalized communities have seen educators become interested in increased school, family, and community connections. Increased connection is perceived as key to positive student outcomes and increased school effectiveness (Epstein & Sheldon, 2022). Whatever the motivation for increasing these connections, the ultimate desire is to ensure that schools become effective in imparting knowledge and skills to the student. In addition, there is a realization by many school management that they do not operate in a vacuum and that they need all stakeholders to deliver on their mandate. Thus to effectively ensure that schools deliver on their mission and vision and effectively educate young people, the school, families, and communities must increase their partnership.
I currently work in a preschool where connections with family and community are considered an essential element to the overall success of the students. In particular, the preschool uses regular meetings, letters, newsletters, and activities to connect the community and families. Regular meetings especially with parents ensure that parents and teachers can discuss pertinent issues regarding the performance of a student and agree on a way to solve identified problems. Letters and newsletters keep the community abreast of the happenings in the school. In my opinion, the preschool does well in its effort to connect with families and the community. This assessment is based on the fact that performance has in recent years improved continuously and the community is more aware of what is happening at the school. In addition, an increased connection between the preschool, families, and the community has led to a greater sense of belonging and increased motivation for teaching and learning. Finally, we have been able to personalize the learning journey for students in collaboration with their families as we recognize that some students may not keep up with the learning pace at the school.
While the school has largely tried to connect with families and the community, I would recommend newsletters about the school be sent to the community every month. Currently, newsletters with information about the school are sent out each quarter. To keep the community more engaged and abreast with the happening at the school, it is imperative to change the frequency with which newsletters are sent from quarterly to monthly. Stronger connections with the community elicit support for sensitive issues about the well-being and safety of students and their families. Generally, more engagement with the community is needed because of the role it plays in ensuring the seamless operation of the school and because the school does not operate in a vacuum. Other things that the school could do differently include involving parents in more school activities, and conducting more face-to-face meetings where possible instead of sending letters.
It is every parent’s dream to always be there for their child and guide them through life. Thus, despite difficulties keeping up, parents try should try to ensure that they are involved in their child’s education by following some of the strategies discussed here. One of these strategies is the direct involvement of parents in their children’s homework. Quite often, many parents fail to get involved simply because there is nothing for them to do. Consequently, if a school makes it obligatory for a parent to be involved by incorporating some elements of adult involvement in homework, it would lead to more parents being more concerned about their children’s education (Mac Iver, 2019). The second strategy to ensure more involvement by parents is to conduct regular workshops. These workshops should require the direct participation of parents and an element of competition. An element of competition ensures that parents are incentivized to do all they can to ensure victory for their child.
The third strategy is the evaluation of partnership programs to ensure that families and schools share the same expectations and understanding. Many initiatives seeking to increase parent involvement in their child’s education dictate what parents should and should not do. While these dictates may work sometimes, they could be counterproductive making it necessary for a school to evaluate partnership programs (Willemse et al., 2018). The evaluation of partnership programs should result in their optimization to ensure parents are treated like partners and that their input is considered in all decision-making about parent participation in their child’s education.
Finally, the school should adopt frequent and early communication to ensure family involvement in a child’s education. There is a wrong perception among parents that teachers are nameless individuals who often unfairly grade their children’s homework. To clear this misconception, a school should have an open-door policy where parents and teachers can interact freely and engage in the academic performance of a child. This policy will allow parents to comprehend what a teacher is trying to do and assist them in accomplishing it by complementing their work (Mac Iver, 2019). A good way to ensure effective communication between parents and teachers is to talk with them and not at them, enquiring about a parent’s communication preference, and record videos where necessary. Thus, more family involvement in a child’s education can be ensured by involving parents in schoolwork, evaluating partnership programs, conducting workshops, and maintaining an open-door communication policy.
Epstein, J. L., & Sheldon, S. B. (2022). School, family, and community partnerships: Preparing educators and improving schools. Routledge.
Mac Iver, M. (2019). Implementing a continuous improvement approach to family engagement during the High School Transition. Proceedings of the 2019 AERA Annual Meeting.
Willemse, T. M., Thompson, I., Vanderlinde, R., & Mutton, T. (2018). Family-school partnerships: A challenge for teacher education. Journal of Education for Teaching, 44(3), 252–257.