The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shift to virtual and hybrid learning left families and educators with important discoveries, including the realization that family engagement and home-school communication are critical to student success.
One-way communication falls flat, and families must be engaged with schools in order for schools to create and maintain equitable learning environments for students, says Mahnaz R. Charania, PhD, a senior research fellow at the Christensen Institute and author of a new report about reimagining family engagement. This engagement requires trust and reciprocity–merely sending information home in student backpacks and out in electronic communications is ineffective.
Communication does not equal connection. There do exist a number of programs and technology tools to help schools harness the “untapped potential of families.” When integrated within robust family engagement strategies, these programs and tools serve to establish families and educators as partners in supporting students and student success.
Within these tools and program, families take the following roles:
• academic support to drive student learning
• guidance support to help students navigate out-of-school and postsecondary pathways
• informal mentors to cultivate and expand students’ career options
• sources of community for each other to promote student wellbeing