Did You Know That Getting The Whole Family Involved With Your Child’s School is One of the Best Ways to Support Their Learning?
Sending your child off to school is a common source of anxiety for many families, kids, and parents alike. As we step away from COVID-19 restrictions, some family members may be stepping out of the house into different surroundings for the first time. Dropping your child off and entrusting them with somebody else is tough, to say the least.
If only there were a way to make everyone feel better. Wait! There is a solution that can have the added benefit of supporting your child’s growth and development.
Getting involved with your child’s classroom can ease many of your fears while reinforcing your support for their education. From daily reports from your teacher to random check-ins, there are many opportunities for parents to engage with educators and foster a better learning environment for their children.
Family engagement is one of the core factors in increasing a child’s achievements, reducing behavioral issues and anxieties, and fostering a healthy, interactive community. It doesn’t mean that you have to quit your job and spend all of your time at your child’s school, but there are several healthy ways to boost your family’s engagement to yield positive outcomes.
The Office of Early Childhood Development, a subsector of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, recently released guidance on the importance of family engagement for young children. This report supports that families and educators need to work together in the best interests of each child to support well-rounded, well-adjusted young people.
How NAEYC Supports Healthy Families for Children
Family engagement plays a critical role in a child’s education, especially in terms of social-emotional development. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) cites six family engagement principles of effective practice to support kids and schools.
These principles support diverse communities and help kids, adults, and schools connect to form healthy relationships. Further, these principles support children through a critical stage in social, emotional, and academic development while creating a fun and productive environment.
1. Families Should Participate in Setting Goals and Making Decisions for Their Children
When educators and schools ask parents to contribute to their children’s education it creates a more cohesive experience. With direct participation in decisions, parents will be more able to continue the learning experiences at home to reinforce lessons.
2. Families, Educators, and Programs Should Engage in Open Communication
Creating multiple avenues for educator-to-parent communications, including providing information in each family’s preferred language fosters understanding and inclusion. Schools that embrace open communication and develop strategies to provide continuous feedback and accept input function better for everyone involved. Throughout the day at Kids’ Care Club, our teachers will send you updates on your child through Learning Genie, an app that allows for real-time updates and instant messaging as well as pictures and even short videos.
3. Reciprocity is Necessary for Teachers and Families
Sharing information and resources is in every child’s best interest. Parents should be encouraged to provide information about their children because they have unique perspectives that might help educators connect with them. Likewise, teachers can provide parents with crucial insight into a child’s daily life and skill development in the classroom.
4. Educational Activities Should Extend to Home and the Community
When the educational opportunities extend to the home and the larger community, it reinforces skills and lessons to the child’s benefit. Supporting families as they encourage continued learning and exploring lessons is empowering and creates more connections. Kids’ Care Club provides this support through ideas for at-home activities on our Pinterest page, optional homework related to the week’s lessons, simple projects to complete at home together, and individualized suggestions from teachers to parents.
5. Families Should Be Able to Contribute Ideas for Curriculum
Empowering families should extend to every aspect of their child’s learning. Encouraging parents to contribute ideas to the program also supports advocacy to others within the community. Here at KCC, we encourage feedback from our parents at any time.
6. Schools Should Build a Comprehensive Communication System to Foster Family Engagement
Establishing set policies and methods for family engagement not only encourages parents to participate, but also provides educators with the support they need to succeed. Schools can provide detailed information on options for family engagement. Doing so ensures that parents feel welcome and valued, and establishes a foundation for future collaboration.
7 Ways to Keep Families Engaged in a Child’s Learning Development
Family engagement requires multiple approaches to meet each family’s needs and promote involvement. What works for one family may not be sufficient for another one. Here at Kids’ Care Club, we are always open to discuss with families to see how programs can best meet their needs. These following ideas are the most effective ways we’ve found to get families engaged in their child’s learning development.
Having a little help in the classroom can go a long way in supporting educators and parents. Whether it’s a special event or a regular occurrence, encouraging parents to participate in the classroom or special events gets them involved.
When parents participate, it also opens lines of communication in new ways and allows them to see things from a different perspective. Plus, parent volunteers get a healthy understanding of what it’s like for educators working with a classroom of kids. While we are currently not allowing parents in the classroom due to Covid-19 restrictions, we look forward to returning to our previous practice of frequently inviting family volunteers and hosting special events.
2. Websites or Blogs About the Classroom
Our website and blog features updates, special events, and accolades and serves as a way to welcome all parents into the fold. Maybe parents aren’t able to volunteer or don’t know how to start. Our online platforms bridge this gap. We encourage parents to share fun events, family traditions, culture, or general information to share with our KCC community.
Ideas to get involved with your child’s classroom virtually:
- Share artwork and projects completed by the kids each day or week.
- Updates on special events.
- Highlight important dates and upcoming projects.
- Celebrate achievements and milestones.
Sending regular information in a fun format can bridge gaps and foster engagement. It’s an excellent way for educators to provide controlled access to what’s happening in the classroom.
4. Embrace Flexible Scheduling for Special Events
Many parents work during the day and can’t take time off to participate in conferences or special events. Working around those challenging schedules by setting evening appointments can go a long way to including all families.
It’s a good idea to ask parents for feedback on days and times that work best. Polls are an excellent option and allow families to feel heard and respected. Schools might have to rotate times for repeat events to give everybody a chance to participate. Pay attention to the KCC newsletter and website to learn more about the events taking place outside of the classroom!
5. Highlight Parents’ Knowledge, Skills, and Culture
Hosting special events that highlight different parents and their skills can help them feel a part of the community. Perhaps you have a parent with a special skill set, a unique job, or a strong cultural connection. Ask them to speak or do a demonstration at a special event.
Children will love seeing their parents participate in their school and might see them in a different light. Plus, it fosters a connection between home and school and might encourage other families to speak up about their specialties and interests.
At Kids’ Care Club, we focus on specific “community helpers” each month. We invite parents and family members with expertise in those areas, or in other topics covered in the curriculum, to share with the children via Zoom or in other safe, creative ways.
6. Use Multiple Communication Platforms
Children process information and learn in different ways, so it’s no surprise that their parents receive communications differently. Some parents might prefer an email while others like phone calls and voicemails. Using multiple channels allows families to access information in whatever way they feel most comfortable.
Further, communicating in the language parents are most comfortable using can encourage more family engagement. Taking time to reach out to families in their preferred language shows them that the program cares enough to go the extra mile.
When programs use a multifaceted approach, it makes families more comfortable and they are more apt to present questions and concerns. Fostering open communication through several avenues makes parents more likely to reach out and discuss important matters.
Kids’ Care Club utilizes several different forms of communication. Through the free Learning Genie app, parents can get real-time updates on their child’s day, end-of-day reports, pictures, and instant messages. Each classroom has a telephone, and parents are welcome to call any time for a brief exchange of information, or to schedule a more lengthy phone call. Curriculum and news are posted and emailed to families. Parents can chat briefly with teachers when they drop off or pick up their child. Finally, twice a year we schedule parent-teacher conferences and encourage all families to sign up for one.
7. Practice Active Listening
We love feedback! Educators benefit from listening first and hearing parent feedback and suggestions about programming, events, and other key aspects of their child’s education.
A further idea is to create a parent advisory board that represents your families and provides support and input on programming. It’s an excellent way to encourage parents to connect and network with each other while representing various interests and backgrounds for a more cohesive school community.
8. Provide Valuable Resources
Kids develop skills in their own time but they can also have delays or require assistance that extends beyond the classroom. Sometimes parents know they need help but aren’t sure where to start. It’s not always easy to ask for support either, especially if you don’t know what your child needs.
Programs and educators can bridge the gaps by providing information to individuals that request it or sharing the resources with the entire class. Offering the information and contacts to everyone doesn’t call out anybody specifically while reaching families that need the resources.
Additionally, when educators provide valuable resources to families, they offer reassurance to parents and can start difficult conversations. This serves as another way to strengthen a school-home connection to create a blanket of support for the kids who need it the most.
Why We at Kids Care Club Believe in the Importance of Family Engagement
We believe that family engagement is one of the most important factors in child development and future success. To that end, our Kids Care Club teams embrace the five Rs of the NAEYC family engagement approach.
Respect is a challenging concept to explain to a child, but modeling it as adults is a good place to start. Families should feel respected and honored by their school and valued as contributors to the school culture.
While this level of respect does not always translate to complete agreement between parties, it’s a commitment to collaboration and communication. In the school setting, educators should keep their biases in check to accept and appreciate each family’s contribution to the community.
2. Reassurance and Responsiveness
We reassure our kids every day, but sometimes parents need that extra boost of support to reinforce their child’s safety and security at school. When educators reassure parents that their child is included, safe, and supported during the school day, it fosters a stronger relationship and encourages family engagement.
Further, responsiveness from educators is necessary to reinforce to parents that their concerns and questions are taken seriously. This approach might require some flexibility from the educator but can help build trust with the family.
Forming strong relationships between educators and families fosters a community. That level of commitment and communication sets a prime example for kids. Making families feel welcome in the community also encourages their engagement with classroom activities and events.
Strong relationships rely on reciprocity with each party depending on the other to achieve a common goal, in this case, educating children. It requires a commitment to open communication and coordination to encourage everyone to participate in the give and take required to educate young minds.
It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day routines and lose out on some key opportunities and experiences. When educators take time each day to reflect on things that happened and special moments with each child or the class as a whole, it can provide new insights.
Those reflections can help educators make connections that they might have forgotten or missed. Ultimately, daily reflections can enhance relationships with families and coworkers to foster stronger relationships and a more cohesive community.
Embracing the Five Rs at Kids Care Club
We embrace the five Rs in everything we do at Kids Care Club. The five Rs support our mission to provide quality care in a safe and nurturing environment. You can see the five Rs reflected in our values and philosophy that focus on supporting the whole child.
Part of our core philosophy includes encouraging family engagement and fostering a strong community. That involves active learning and developing an understanding of the differences and similarities between children and families.
We encourage parental involvement! Parents can attend parent involvement meetings to learn more about what is happening in the schools, and how they can get involved. Further, we openly post center and community events on our social media channels and website to encourage involvement at various levels.
Does a school that prioritizes family engagement and collaboration sound ideal for your family? Contact us to schedule a tour today.