Studies show that when parents take an active role in their children’s learning process, they often perform better in school. It’s important that teachers and staff are equal partners with parents, too. The responsibility for building the partnership rests mostly with the school. Family and community engagement goals should not be a one-time thing but instead an ingrained set of interactions, beliefs and practices, day-in and day-out, that support learning at school and at home.
In terms of community engagement, an article where principals elaborate on effective strategies, it says that schools need to know and understand the community. To do this, the article states that staff should be encouraged to engage with the community in various ways throughout the year, as this is how a strong bond is created and adds to the positive feelings that residents have about a school.
Throughout the US, bilingual and Spanish-speaking families now make up a big part of communities and school. As such, they also need to feel just as validated and important in both as does the dominant majority. In terms of schooling, below are suggestions for back-to-school family and community engagement goals to consider at the beginning of the school year:
- Offer a variety of volunteer opportunities
- Continuously celebrate families by having special events for the whole family, a family hall of fame and a bulletin board for parents
- Survey parents and staff on a regular basis to determine school climate
- Make the campus inviting to parents from the parking lot to the school’s interior
A Connecticut report addressing the needs of English language learners (ELL’s) encourages parents to be involved not just at school but also at home. One of the best ways that bilingual parents can do this is by establishing a reading routine with their kids, which encourages English language and vocabulary development. The Latino Family Literacy Project offers teachers an online training webinar or a half-day program training in their area. See workshop schedule.
Lectura Books publishes bilingual and multicultural children’s books for school libraries or home use.