January 6, 2017
Research shows us that children tend to do better when programs engage families in supporting their children’s learning at home. Family engagement goes beyond basic communication with families. It requires deeper involvement and relationship building that promote strong, healthy families. Family engagement is ongoing rather than something that occurs only occasionally in the course of a child’s connection with your program.
Quality early childhood programs are welcoming to all families and extend invitations for families to be actively involved in their child’s program. Meaningful family engagement also supports a child’s readiness and success in school. Programs that strive to promote family engagement embrace a philosophy of shared responsibility between the program and the family. A child’s development and learning is seen as a collaborative effort between all parties involved.
What does the evidence for this Maryland EXCELS standard look like?
To meet the requirements, your program will show different types of family engagement in action (ADM 5). Two different examples are required at Level 2 and five examples are needed at Level 5. Different types of opportunities have families engaging with the program in different ways. For example, if families participate in many different field trips during the year, they all count as one opportunity, but if families are offered the chance to chaperone field trips and are also asked to organize a holiday food drive, they would count as two opportunities
Examples of family engagement opportunities include:
- creating a family lending-library of parenting books and educational resources;
- creating a committee for family members to assist with decision making, program improvement, fundraising, and other tasks;
- having parent bulletin boards or information tables with up-to-date and timely information on a variety of topics and opportunities for engaging in the program or community;
- providing information and resources on topics related to education, early intervention services, family networks, and community resources;
- allowing families to prepare classroom materials at home (cutting, sewing, computer projects, etc.);
- providing an open door policy for family members to visit the program unannounced;
- asking for family input on program improvement through the use of surveys, suggestion boxes and/or committees;
- conducting family conferences and parent workshops;
- holding events that bring the program, the community, and the families together;
- conducting home-visits; and more.
How do you encourage family engagement in your programs? Let us know by posting pictures on social media using the hashtag #MarylandEXCELSFamilyEngagement.