Family engagement and students’ school success

Schools can successfully implement family engagement programs that advance the learning and development of children and youth, but only with the active support of school and district leaders. Mavis Sanders explains

Family engagement is an important factor influencing the school outcomes of children and young people. It is commonly understood as the participation of parents in their children’s learning and development. Here, the term “parents” is broadly defined to include guardians, grandparents, siblings, or extended family members acting in the “parenting” role. While the definition may appear simple, family engagement is a complex construct that covers a broad range of parental attitudes and behaviors. It is also a dynamic construct and, when most effective, an adaptive one.

What we know
● Family engagement is associated with positive school outcomes for children and youth.
● Families can be engaged in their children’s learning and development through home-based, school-based, and communication activities.
● Barriers to family engagement can be addressed through schools’ intentional outreach practices.
● Principal and district leadership are critical for building schools’ capacities to promote family engagement effectively.

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May 2014