5 ways to strengthen family engagement skills

Updated: Aug 17, 2020

1. Strong family-program relationships begins with authentic engagement.

  • Take time to learn about each family’s culture, home language, or family composition

  • Recognize changes in family circumstances or community circumstances

  • Design a welcoming environment (table decorations, ice-breakers, music)

2. Respect the diverse family systems, dynamics, cultural and economic factors shape the lives of families.

  • Understand how and why we engage both Mothers, Fathers and other family members

  • Acknowledge real and perceived barriers that prevent family engagement

  • Connect with small groups by hosting Men-Only Gatherings, coffee for grandparents, study groups for teen parents

  • Target non-parental family members and caregivers

  • Create social capital and build a community of families

3. Relationship-based approaches should include communication strategies, reflective listening, perspective taking and cultural competency.

  • Communicate early and often

  • Use the means of communication preferred by the family

  • Be willing to reasonably accommodate their needs

  • Involve everyone in building relationships

  • Work with families by asking about their own learning needs.

4. Build positive, ongoing interactions and relationships with families and communities by ensuring your work reflects:

  • Respectful attitudes toward families

  • Authentic knowledge about families

  • Relationship-based partnerships with families

  • Cultural and linguistically responsiveness toward families

5. Develop your team, and develop partnerships to help you work alongside your families. Consider these essential questions when engaging families for their voice:

  • How might we work with diverse populations, and understand the unique needs of families from priority populations?

  • How does staff acknowledge diversity of families?

  • What unintended cultural barriers do you see for your families?

  • In what ways is our program family-focused?

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