About the Family Engagement Toolkit

What is Family Engagement?

At its essence, family engagement is a process in which educators and families build intentional, authentic relationships toward the shared goal of supporting a child’s healthy growth and development.

According to The Pennsylvania Family Engagement Birth through College, Career, Community Ready Framework, effective family engagement practices are:

  • strengths-based;
  • promote cultural and linguistic responsiveness, inclusion, and equity; and
  • have a foundation of two-way communications between learning communities and families.

Effective family engagement practices leverage and respect families’, learning communities’, and community partners’ unique expertise, knowledge, and leadership. To promote effective family engagement, it is necessary to support the identification and practice related to measurement and accountability of family engagement as an essential element to success in education and life.

Family engagement must start with these core assumptions:

  • families are committed to supporting their child’s learning and development; and
  • the complex intersections of race, socioeconomic status, gender, religion, ethnicity, disability, and language must be addressed to facilitate engagement

What is the impact of family engagement in early childhood? What does research show?

Family involvement can help children get ready to enter school.

In the early childhood years, family involvement is clearly related to children’s literacy outcomes. For example, one study revealed that children whose parents read to them at home recognized letters of the alphabet sooner than those whose parents did not, and children whose parents taught them at home recognized letters of the alphabet sooner than those whose parents did not. (Family Involvement: What Does Research Say? By Holly Kreider, Harvard Graduate School of Education, gse.harvard.edu).

Family involvement can benefit all children, especially those less likely to succeed in school.

Family involvement has been shown to benefit children from diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds. For example, low-income African American children whose families maintained high rates of parent participation in elementary school were more likely to complete high school. Latino youth who were academically high achieving had parents who provided encouragement and emphasized the value of education as a way out of poverty. (Family Involvement: What Does Research Say? By Holly Kreider, Harvard Graduate School of Education, gse. harvard.edu).

Who should use our Family Engagement Toolkit?

The Trying Together Family Engagement Toolkit is meant for child care providers of children from birth to age nine.

The toolkit is accessible for child care providers in a variety of settings including: child care centers, family child care homes, group child care homes, and relative providers.

This toolkit is also meant for families who want to access ideas and resources to effectively engage with educators to support the positive growth of their children.

Definitions

Having a shared language is an important element of family engagement in this toolkit. Listed below are defined terms for the purposes of this toolkit.

  • Caregiver: anyone who invests in caring for a child; a caregiver could be an educator, a family member, a mother or father, a sibling; anyone who spends time nurturing the growth and development of a child.
  • Family: made up of a child’s closest caregivers outside of school or child care; a family supports the physical and emotional needs of the children in their care.
  • Educator: responsible for creating a learning environment where a child or children can learn, interact, and grow; an educator works directly with children to encourage healthy child development; an educator could work in a child care center, a family child care home, or a group child care home.
  • Child Care Provider: includes directors, educators, and caregivers of young children in a child care center, a family child care home, a group child care home, or as a relative provider.
  • Relative Provider: a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, or a sibling 18 years and older who is designated by the Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) as a child care provider and receives subsidy funding for child care; a relative provider is both family and a child care provider.
  • Learning Community: could be a school, a child care program, a family child care home, a group child care home, or any group of people dedicated to providing enriching learning experiences for children.
  • Transitions: changes for a child from one environment or experience to another; could be when a child moves to a new classroom or to a new educator within a program, to a different early learning program, to a new town or state, or transitions to Kindergarten.

This is a resource from our Family Engagement Toolkit.

Browse the entire toolkit with resources for providers, relative providers, and families.

 

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