All of the important people in a child's life, including family members and program staff, may have different perspectives about what is best for the child. One parent may be more focused on achievement than behavior. A parent may be more interested in the child's relationship with peers. They could also be interested in fostering specific pre-academic skills. Staff may have their own goals to offer for the parent's consideration, based upon the program's overall goals and curricular approach. Strong family partnerships will include conversations over time about the goals parents and family members choose for themselves and for their child.
To create a strong foundation for family engagement in your program, ensure each parent's voice is heard. Reach out to fathers, mothers, and other family members to build inclusive family partnerships and to be most responsive to children's learning and development. When both fathers and mothers are engaged in a child's education, the child will have better outcomes, both socially and academically.
Example: Kevin's parents have both expressed concerns that he is not interacting enough with other students in his classroom. Kevin plays well with others, but his parents would like him to have more friends. Kevin's mother brings this concern up regularly with his teacher, Mia. Kevin's father asks occasionally, but feels that he will come out of his shell in his own time.
One day Mia purposefully observes Kevin playing at the water table with some classmates. Together, they poll other students about whether a block will sink or float. Kevin correctly guesses that the block will sink, which Mia is excited about as a teacher.
Rather than sharing these observations with either parent at pick-up or drop-off, Mia decides to email both parents together to describe Kevin's interactions. She includes a picture of Kevin at the water table with his classmates.
- What influence do you think Mia's decision to email both parents together has on her relationship with Kevin's mother and father?
- How might it impact their relationship with each other or each parent's relationship with Kevin?
- How have you approached similar situations?
- Do you have other ideas to strengthen your ongoing partnership with the key adults in the child's life?
National Centers:Parent, Family and Community Engagement
Last Updated: December 3, 2019