Successfully engaging families and communities is one of the most important means schools have of ensuring student success, yet community engagement frequently isn’t the priority it deserves to be. Today, on American Education Week’s Parents Day, we look back at the information author and parent engagement expert Anne Henderson shared at a CEA sponsored forum on how to change that school-home relationship.
Henderson, a co-author of Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family/School Partnerships, was the keynote speaker at a forum titled Welcoming Schools: How to have effective two-way communications, held for teachers and community members in Rocky Hill in 2013.
According to Henderson’s definition, successful parent engagement isn’t simply about recruiting parents for fundraisers or holding parenting workshops—instead the key is building meaningful relationships.
Schools succeed when they truly partner with families and recognize that they can’t help all students achieve without family support. “How can we be more intentional about our relationship building?” Henderson asked participants.
Henderson said that school events for families can sometimes turn into purely informational affairs. She encouraged the educators and parent leaders present to rethink some of those events to instead emphasize relationship building.
In addition to relationships, giving parents more information is also crucial to a successful school-home partnership, according to Henderson. Caregivers need to understand what their child is learning in school and how to support that learning at home. Henderson emphasized that families want to know, for example, how to read aloud effectively and ask their children questions about a text, rather than simply being told to read to their children for 20 minutes.
Watch video of Henderson’s speech here or below.