Johnna Darragh Ernst offers checklists, communication tips and questions, so educators can foster family engagement

Lewisville, N.C. – July 31, 2014 – The Welcoming Classroom: Building Strong Home-to-School Connections for Early Learning from Gryphon House Inc., a leading publisher of early childhood resources, guides teachers on how to best engage families. In The Welcoming Classroom, Johnna Darragh Ernst offers practical ideas for creating a friendly atmosphere for families that will encourage them to participate in their children’s learning community.

Educators who engage with families early on will affect young children long after they leave the classroom, by improving school readiness, nurturing positive engagement with peers or even helping to increase graduation rates.

Specifically, teachers who read The Welcoming Classroom will:

• gain new strategies for creating a home-school link to support learning.
• learn practical ways to connect with families from varied cultural and language backgrounds.
• create a richer learning environment by integrating unique family cultural perspectives.
• learn ways to encourage family participation in decision making.
• learn strategies to develop families as resources.

Each chapter includes family-engagement reflection questions designed to help teachers assess their classrooms, as well as questions to ask parents to keep them engaged. The Welcoming Classroom features bulleted checklists, a user-friendly way for teachers to learn tips for improvement opportunities. Finally, checklists located in the Appendix allow educators to quickly identify the progress of each program.

“Children in today’s early childhood classroom are more culturally, linguistically and ability diverse than ever before. The challenge for teachers is to partner with each family through recognizing individual strengths, concerns, priorities and resources,” says Ernst. “The Welcoming Classroom gives educators an all-encompassing guide for doing just that.”

The Welcoming Classroom: Building Strong Home-to-School Connections for Early Learning (ISBN: 978-0-87659-482-7, 148 pages, $16.95) will be available to purchase in October 2014. Educators may preorder books here. For writers interested in e-galley copies, please email

About the Author

Johnna Darragh Ernst, Ph.D., is a professor of early childhood education at Heartland Community College in Normal, Ill. She specializes in helping early childhood professionals connect with families to create inclusive early childhood classroom communities. Her direct service experience includes working with early childhood programs to expand their capacity to provide inclusive services, working with preschoolers, and coordinating services for families.

About Gryphon House Inc.

Gryphon House is an award-winning publisher of resource books for parents and teachers of children from birth through age eight. Developmentally appropriate and easy to use, Gryphon House books provide parents and teachers with the tools they need to bring the joy of learning to young children. To learn more, or to check out the entire collection, visit

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