ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Families and Schools Get Engaged: A Long Road to a Great Marriage?

OK, maybe you've been burned once. Maybe it's even happened twice. But are you prepared to let those isolated incidents get in the way of all the great things that can come from a committed partnership?

No, we're not talking about your love life; we're talking about building a different kind of partnership—a school–family partnership. These partnerships can sometimes feel as complicated and dramatic as our past or present love lives. Some of us—teachers, principals, parents, guardians, and students—have been burned in the past and are hesitant to give it another try. And when we do take that leap of faith, we bring forth our fears, which can interfere with developing meaningful relationships. But just as research has suggested that people in committed life partnerships enjoy many benefits, such as longer lives and better mental and physical health, so do young people greatly benefit from families and educators who commit themselves to developing and sustaining partnerships.

The benefits of meaningful family engagement are undeniable. Research, experience, and common sense continue to confirm what supporters of a whole child approach to education already know—family engagement is critical to ensuring the success of each young person. Even among the believers, many of us still struggle to work through the real challenges associated with developing and sustaining meaningful family engagement. We get hung up on a negative experience and are reluctant to reengage. Yet our willingness to work through the bumps that naturally arise in the process is a key determinant of our success.

Join us throughout September as we examine the benefits and strategies involved in creating and developing successful programs and overcoming barriers to family engagement. Listen to this month's Whole Child Podcast, featuring Heidi Rosenberg, research analyst at the Harvard Family Research Project; Sheila Jackson, director of the Department of School Improvement at the Comer School Development Program Office and Regional Training Center for Prince George's County (Md.); and Trise Moore, Family and Community Partnership Director for Federal Way Public Schools in Washington State. Read the Whole Child Blog to hear from guest bloggers, and dive deeper into the latest research, reports, and tools on the parent and family engagement topic page.

Have you signed up to receive the Whole Child Newsletter? Read this month's newsletter and visit the archive for more strategies, resources, and tools you can use to help ensure that each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

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