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Family Involvement Rationale

Download: Family Involvement.doc

At its best, the education of young people is a partnership between the school, the home, and the community. Effective partnerships, however, require leadership, a compelling purpose for their work, and a set of mutually agreed-upon goals. Educators who wish to strengthen the bonds among those individuals and organizations who contribute to the education and welfare of a community's youth must be knowledgeable about various ways in which families and community members can be involved meaningfully in the affairs of the school for the benefit of students.

Different types of partnerships require different sets of knowledge and skills. School and district-level administrators are responsible for forging a consensus on mission and goals and the underlying values and beliefs that support their work. They also must be able to engage the community in a way that sustains this collaborative work over a sufficient period of time to realize the intended improvements. Leaders who are successful at these tasks see consensus building with the broader school community as an important part of their work, are skillful in communicating in clear, direct language (both orally and in writing), and are effective in conducting meetings that balance task achievement and relationships. These leaders are both clear about their own values and beliefs and respectful of the values and beliefs of others. Such work requires a capacity to convey authentic interest in the perspectives of others, to listen deeply and honor others' points of view, and to identify areas of common interest.

Teachers who establish partnerships with the families or other caregivers of their students must understand the cultural backgrounds of their students and the unique challenges those families may be experiencing. Teachers must be able to communicate clearly and respectfully with family members and demonstrate a genuine interest in the welfare of the child and family. They must be skillful in conducting meetings with caregivers that create a sense of teamwork between the home and school as well as delineate appropriate and manageable ways for providing support for a student's learning at home. In addition, teachers must demonstrate sensitivity to ways in which caregivers may be most appropriately involved in schools as classroom volunteers or committee members.

Technology provides teachers and administrators with important tools for this work. While not applicable in all communities or with all families, some schools have strengthened their connections with families and the community by posting school news and homework assignments on school or district web sites and by easing communication with teachers by providing e-mail or voice mail access to families. Other schools are increasing the availability of computers to all students by working with community organizations such as libraries and churches. While Internet-based communication may seem like a pipe dream in schools where teachers still do not have ready access to telephones or copy machines, the availability of such technology is growing at an increasing rate and should be available to virtually all schools.

  • Cataloged: Sep-28-2003
  • Country: USA
  • Author/Creator: NSDC

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