Before schools can begin the work of increasing parent/family involvement, it is necessary to define what family involvement means. Strategy: you can use linoit or stixy to have teams post definitions or behaviors we think of when we talk about family involvement.
Is it possible for all families to live up to the definition that we have created for family involvement in our school? Would they define it in the same way? If not, the team will need to consider the need to develop a definition of family involvement that is not only attainable and realistic, but also reflective of the families they serve.
There are many very important benefits of family involvement. These outcomes serve as a reminder to school teams of the value in striving to increase family involvement in their schools. Standards for Parent/Family Involvement Programs:http://www.pta.org/archive_article_details_1118251710359.html
One model of family involvement is Esptein’s Six Types of Family Involvement. This model provides a broad range of approaches to meaningful involvement of families.
For schools implementing PBIS, consider how each of the 6 types of family involvement should be addressed across the continuum of supports offered in the school. Starting with the Universal level, this would include a whole school approach to including families. At the secondary and tertiary level the team can consider how to address each of the six types of family involvement for families involved with the corresponding levels of intervention support. So, what would families of students receiving secondary supports need with regard to communication or parenting skills, etc.? The same would be true for families of students with the highest level of need. How can the school ensure that these families are aware of community agencies and are included in student learning opportunities and decision making. The main idea is that families in our schools might have different needs and different ways of being involved depending upon the level of support being provided for students. Having said that, emphasis should be placed on school-wide approached to family involvement, which includes all families.
Communication is an essential component when considering family involvement. It is important to remember that this is not unilateral communication coming only from the school, rather it is about ensuring the voice of families is solicited and responded to as well. Listening and accepting feedback is essential for schools striving to increase family involvement.
Parenting support is another way that families can be involved with the school. While some families might be resistant to receiving training on parent skills, it can be a great benefit to assist parents in developing skills that they would be most interested in learning more about. Such topics might include, how to talk to you teenager, understanding internet safety, how to help your child with homework, etc. Making sure the topics are relevant and interesting could be a great help. For school-wide teams it is also a great way to include families in PBIS strategies at home by helping families establish corresponding expectations at home (What does Responsible behavior look like at bedtime?). Families could learn how to make their own behavioral matrix to post at home. Parents might also be interested in academic learning opportunities to help them develop skills to assist their children. Having parents indicate the topics of most interest will be important for ensuring the trainings are well-received.
Surveying families will ensure the topics are most relevant to their needs. Be sure to include outside agencies as presenters to increase awareness about community supports/ resources. Offering to establish a parent resource library where information about a variety of topics is available at no cost is a great way to support on-going family learning.
When you prepare parenting training, consider following the steps outlined above.
Involving families in student learning can take place through a variety of creative opportunities. Families need to have the opportunity to learn about the strategies and then have the tools to follow through with their own child.
Volunteering should move beyond the narrow definition of helping in the class or making copies. Soliciting a list of talents and skills from families increases the likelihood that the family member would be more motivated to share their area of expertise at the school. It is essential to offer a variety of times when asking parents/families to volunteer, such as in the evening, weekends, or less often than a regular commitment.
Family members input must be considered in decision making processes. This is more than having a teacher sit on the team who is also a parent. The team must find creative ways to solicit feedback and input in decisions that are being made at the school.
Many PBIS teams already collaborate with community businesses and agencies to support student success. The team should develop a plan for finding ways to include community agencies and establish a way to share information about the community supports with families as well. Having community agencies support the work of the school increases consistency for students.
When families are involved and participate, the team should consider ways to acknowledge and recognize their contribution.
Overall, when beginning the process of exploring family involvement you will need to start by developing a definition that fits the school culture and the vision of the families themselves. You will also need to collect data to determine the areas of need. Be sure to evaluate which families are already represented and which are not, as this will be important for ensuring family involvement efforts match the diversity of your school. Make family involvement efforts a high priority and don’t immediately reject ideas that have not worked in the past. Identify staff who do a great job with establishing family involvement and solicit their strategies. Finally, make sure that staff can incorporate the involvement of families in ways that are meaningful to their efforts to teach students.
Merriam-webster provides the following definition for families. As you read the definition, ask yourself, “Based on this definition, is our school a family?” Perhaps, our efforts to only consider what family means as it related to students and their parents, we might miss the notion that our schools could be a family. Are we not a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation?
If we are a part of a child’s family, do we make children and their families feel that way?
Defining Family Involvement What is your definition?
Can all of our families live up to ourdefinition? If not, how can we modify our definition to reflect our unique family contributions? Key questions- How would our families define family involvement? What can we do to value diverse contributions? How can we make every family believe they have something valuable to offer the school? How can we let families know about the enormous variety of opportunities to contribute (various times of day, various skills required, things can be done at home, etc)? What does it feel like to parents to come into our school? Do we need to develop a different definition of family involvement?
Benefits of Family Involvement Higher achievement Improved school attendance Improved student sense of well-being Improved student behavior Better parent and student perceptions of classroom and school climate Better readiness to complete homework Higher educational aspirations among students and parents Better student grades Increased educational productivity of the time that parents and students spend together Greater parent satisfaction with teachers (Anfara, 2008)
Epstein’s Six Types of Family Involvement Communicating Communication between home and school is regular, two-way, and meaningful. Parenting Parenting skills are promoted and supported. Student learning Parents play an integral role in assisting student learning. Volunteering Parents are welcome in the school, and their support and assistance are sought. Decision making Parents are full partners in the decisions that affect children and families. Collaborating with community Community resources are used to strengthen schools, families, and student learning. (Epstein, Coates, Salinas, Sanders, & Simon,1
Continuum of SupportsFollowing Epstein’s Six Typesof Family Involvement Activities Communication Parenting Student Learning Volunteering Decision Making Community Collaboration
Communication Newsletters Email Phone calls Meetings Surveys Things to communicate- Data Upcoming events Ways to participate Individual student progress (to individual parents) Successes Actions in response to Parent Survey results
ParentingTraining opportunities Universal Ex. general behavior management, how to set up expectations at home Secondary Ex. using behavior intervention plans, rewards at home Tertiary Ex. community agency supports, exceptional children process
Parenting Cont. Survey families about types of training Include community agencies to provide support for parenting- consider meeting place Parent resource library
Steps for SuccessFor Training and Support for Families Collect Data Tell Parents why it is important Plan Intervention Get Feedback Do Intervention Share data results Ex. Many students are struggling with letter identification. 65% could only identify 20 letters. We would expect 80% to have this skill at this time of year. We provided training and materials for families to work on this at home. Great Job Families- now we have 92% who can identify 20 letters!
Student Learning Make and Take Trainings Themed academic nights involving PBIS expectations “Respect Night” Teach skills to use at home Game show review night before tests Provide parents with questions and answers
Volunteering Ask parents about their talents, provide opportunities to share those skills Ex. music, art, organization, event planning, etc. Tutoring Mentoring Teacher Assistance Fund Raising Guest Speakers Variety in scheduling- day/evening, 1x mo, 1xyr
Decision Making Representative on PBIS Team Drafts sent to PTO team members for feedback Involvement and support for meetings about his/her child
Community Collaboration Letters about PBIS Providing PBIS expectations to post where students are (YMCA, Churches, restaurants) Request volunteers/support for activities and celebrations Ask for sponsorship of events- advertising
Recognition Awards Certificates of Recognition Announcements Interviews/ Articles Donated gifts from the community Tickets to events
Steps for SuccessTraining and Support with Staff Define family involvement Collect data Consider data about the current families that are involved as well as the families that are not involved Emphasize the importance Match efforts to the culture and values of your families Avoid saying that it won’t work. If you identify barriers, identify solutions. Recognize the efforts of staff who work to build family involvement Incorporate activities that are helpful to staff Use the TIPS problem solving process to ensure that each of the 6 types of family involvement have been considered and addressed
Family is… 2 a: a group of persons of common ancestry : b: a people or group of peoples regarded as deriving from a common stock :3 a: a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation : b: the staff of a high official (as the President)4: a group of things related by common characteristics: 5 a: the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children ; also : any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family <a single-parent family> (family, 2012)
Are we a part of a child’sfamily? How much time? Responsible for teaching? Guiding, shaping, teaching values? Social skills, life-long learners? InvestmentDo we make children and their families feel that we are an extension of their family?
Problem Solving Practice Review the parent survey data and practice the problem-solving process with your team.