Family Engagement Strategies to Accelerate Learning

Did you know family engagement is a powerful tool to make a positive impact on student learning and achievement? However, as a teacher, it can become challenging to figure out how to support this family interaction.

In this blog post, we explore the importance of family engagement. Then we’ll look at how this impacts student learning and achievement. Finally, I share engagement strategies for families that support the child’s learning.

Did you know, in today’s fast-paced world, where time seems to fly by, family engagement and learning play a pivotal role in nurturing strong bonds and promoting lifelong education. This connection begins at birth and lasts a lifetime. Research consistently highlights the profound impact that active family involvement has on a child’s academic achievements, social-emotional development, and overall well-being. Unfortunately, the engagement challenge persists when multiple events happen simultaneously and consistently. I hope to share some strategies to support teachers in providing strategies for family engagement with results impacting the classroom.

Why is family engagement in learning so important? There are many aspects of learning that happen with family support. After all, parents, siblings, and extended family members are essentially the child’s first teacher. Let’s examine three ways family engagement impacts learning.

Family Engagement: On Learning

  1. Academic Success: Family engagement serves as a powerful predictor of academic success. Studies show that students with involved parents are more likely to earn higher grades, have better attendance, and exhibit stronger motivation and self-esteem. Why? When children know there is someone else cheering on their success, the child is more likely to try harder and continue persevering. Secondly, parental involvement correlates with improved literacy skills, enhanced cognitive abilities, and increased likelihood of pursuing higher education. When parents are involved in a child’s education, there is an unspoken value the child understands. Therefore, the child wants to do well with ongoing support.
  2. Holistic Development: Did you know family engagement extends beyond academics, impacting a child’s holistic development? When parents actively participate in their child’s life, they provide emotional support, nurturing environments, and opportunities for social connections. This involvement contributes to improved mental health, self-confidence, and resilience, setting the stage for lifelong success.
  3. Cultural and Values Transmission: Families serve as the primary context for cultural and values transmission. Engaging in meaningful discussions, sharing traditions, and celebrating diverse perspectives within the family unit allows children to develop a sense of identity, empathy, and an appreciation for their cultural heritage. The child holds an identity that has value. This, in turn, fosters social cohesion and an inclusive mindset.
success strategies for family engagement that impact learning

Family Engagement: Four Ideas to Support Learning

Establish Regular Communication Channels: Open lines of communication between parents, guardians, and children are crucial. Create a routine for family discussions, where everyone can share their thoughts, challenges, and triumphs. This can be done through family meetings, designated mealtime conversations, or even digital platforms that facilitate family dialogue.

Engage in Joint Learning Activities: Families should encourage learning as a shared experience. Participate in activities such as reading together, visiting museums, exploring nature, or engaging in creative projects. These activities not only promote learning, but also create cherished memories and strengthen family bonds.

Create a Home Learning Environment: Designate a space in your home that promotes learning and curiosity. Stock this space with books, educational games, puzzles, and art supplies. Other ideas include playing board and card games to build critical thinking, problem solving, and cooperative working skills. Encourage family members to spend time in this dedicated space, exploring their interests and engaging in intellectual pursuits.

Promote Digital Literacy: In today’s digital age, fostering digital literacy is essential. One way to promote healthy interactions is to encourage family members to explore educational websites, online courses, or educational apps together. This shared experience not only enhances learning but also helps navigate the digital world safely and responsibly. Just remember to limit the “tech time”, so there is ample time to use the imagination, socialize, and participate in physical activity to keep the mind sharp.

Family Engagement: In the Community

Involve Extended Family and Community: Connecting with extended family members and friends is another important aspect to engage in learning. Learning doesn’t have to be paper and pencil based. Grandparents enjoy sharing stories and doing fun activities with grandchildren. They enjoy reading stories and going on adventures. There are always opportunities to extend the scope of family engagement by involving grandparents, cousins, and other family members in educational activities.

Community Outreach: Additionally, exploring opportunities to engage with the broader community is a great way to teach about community service. Sometimes these outreach opportunities occur through a club or church. However, families can also reach out to organizations to provide support. Volunteering at local organizations or participating in community events are great opportunities to focus on education and learning. Volunteering supports the work we do everyday in supporting other people to overcome challenges and be part of a broader positive community cause.

Family Engagement: With Teacher Support

Homework: Provide homework opportunities that involve conversations, application, demonstration of learning with family members.

Homework does not always have to be paper and pencil, but it could be cooking, working on a project, playing an academic game, even playing a board or card game. Be creative. Homework is an opportunity for family engagement.

Family Message Journal: Providing a few opportunities throughout the week for students to write about their day, ask questions, or write about these in a journal is a great way to practice written communication. When students share the journal with a family member, the person writes a response modeling good writing skills. This has always been a cherished journal, especially when the cover features family photos covered with clear contact paper for added protection and durability.

Book Sharing: Practicing reading is a daily event for most elementary children. When a child can listen to the rhythm, tone, inflections, voice of an adult reader, there is much joy and learning taking place. Something I enjoy doing is creating book bag projects for students to take home and complete with family members. Oftentimes, siblings love getting in on the action and the book bag project becomes a family affair.

Classroom Help: One of the important people to help in the classroom is a parent or family member. When students see other adults helping, they begin to see the importance of education. I try to always have a few tasks on hand for parents to help out. Even if it is using flashcards to practice math skills, this is an important task that needs to be completed. Parents are appreciative of the opportunity to assist, and are more likely to continue this support at home.

Passion Projects: Opportunities for learning to be shared in an alternative way meets various learning intelligences AND prompts family engagement. I always love these projects because students learn about what they would like to learn and oftentimes, the project is a hobby that involves grandparents or other family members. I love when students learn more about their own family history and strengthen family relationships when completing these projects.

Family Engagement and Learning: Download Resource

Alright my friends, are you looking for a family engagement resource to support your families? Maybe you’re looking for lessons with a STEAM focus? Perhaps you’re looking for fun lessons to engage students in critical thinking and problem solving? Maybe your students need time to explore an everyday concept and dig deeper into conceptual understanding? Well, this is the resource for you and your students with a fun focus on . . . 

Bubbles with STEAM!!

Look no further!! This K-2 editable STEAM Family Engagement resource was specifically designed to focus on reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills while incorporating standards in reading, writing, math, social studies, science, technology, and the arts.

This resource is perfect for any student in general education, special education, English language learner, migrant education, and students who are language deficient. The feedback I received from students and parents was evidence of the Bubbles with STEAM Family Engagement success!

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Final Thoughts on Family Engagement and Learning

Involving family with the learning process can have profound effects on a child’s overall success. Take time to work together, create together, enjoy each other, and play together. As educators, finding opportunities to involve families with learning supports the work you do in the classroom. Look for and provide opportunities to make learning a family affair often throughout the weeks, months, and school year to promote positive interactions.

Family engagement and learning have a profound impact on a child’s academic achievements, holistic development, and overall well-being. By actively involving parents, guardians, and extended family members, we create an environment that fosters curiosity, nurtures meaningful connections, and supports lifelong learning. The ideas shared in this blog post are simply starting points for enhancing family engagement, but the possibilities are limitless. Remember, the journey of family engagement and learning is an ongoing process, built on love, support, and a shared commitment to education.

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Annette Durbin

Annette has been an educator for more than 30 years working in the PK-6 elementary classroom, English learner instructional specialist, district leadership, university professor, as well as a mentor for teachers nationwide. A National Board Certificated Teacher, Annette focuses her research on accelerating learning and advancing achievement, personalizing instruction, technology, and leadership in the education field.

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