While decades of research underscore the value of family engagement, the crises of the past year cast a new light on its importance. First, the pandemic-forced school closures blurred lines for educators and families, as parents abruptly took a front row seat to their children’s educational experience in a way that they never had before. Second, our country’s reckoning with racial injustice highlighted an urgent need to equitably engage families in their child’s education. With this heightened recognition that meaningful and authentic family engagement is critical, it has also become clear that establishing a shared, well-understood definition of family engagement is critical.
We, at Family Engagement Lab, have been focused on family engagement since our founding in 2016. Powerful insights directly from families and educators regarding their experiences and needs, paired with research uncovering that involvement from a parent or caregiver in at-home learning has more than twice the effect on student achievement than parents’ education levels or socio-economic status (Melhuish et al., 2008) motivates our work, drives our commitment, and has shaped our definition of family engagement. Our approach to family engagement builds off of the Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnership, which highlights how relationships between educators and parents are central to supporting student and school improvement.
Authentic Family Engagement
At Family Engagement Lab, authentic family engagement means:
We also believe that authentic family engagement must include:
How Family Engagement Lab Addresses Authentic Family Engagement
Family Engagement Lab’s signature tool, FASTalk, promotes equity and builds partnerships between teachers and historically underserved families by sharing engaging, at-home activities in each family's home language to reinforce classroom learning.
Beyond FASTalk, we are focused on crucial, systems-level capacity building work. New efforts focus on building the capacity of schools and systems to foster the beliefs, values, and behaviors that allow for authentic family engagement. We know that these are the conditions that enable parent-teacher partnership to develop and thrive, and, ultimately, provide the opportunity for all children to flourish at school and beyond.
To learn more about how Family Engagement Lab can help your state, school or district,
contact us today.