December 2020 Newsletter – Boosting Family Engagement: Grassroots Family Engagement Strategies

Regardless of the goal of your family engagement initiative, communication is going to be at the foundation of your success. From the very first conversation with a parent, whether over the phone or as part of a drop- in or virtual tour, stress to families the program’s dedication to open communication and partnership. Everyone on the staff who interacts with families should work to establish open lines of communication, whether it be about the kinds of foods the child enjoys or how well they are doing during math activities. Open and honest communication builds trust, and families will engage with program staff that they trust.

Whether you are communicating in person, in writing, on the phone, via Zoom sessions, or through social media be sure to invite families to share their perspectives and feelings.  Acknowledge the importance of these unique views and look for commonalities that will help strengthen the relationship. Engage with families in a way that is respectful of their cultural backgrounds. Be mindful of conversations that should take place in private and be sure to respect families’ decisions about how to use the information you provide.

Programs with strong parent engagement work with families to build skills; both for parents and children.  Be sure to recognize and build on the strengths that you observe. Act as a role model for parents to notice their child’s amazing capabilities and build skills in a strengths-based manner. Structure your conversations with families about their skills in the same way.

You may find it necessary to share information with the families enrolled in your program about everything from managing biting to ways to practice letter recognition on the weekends. This information should be shared in a positive and culturally sensitive manner that helps families digest the information and put it into practice in their daily lives. Some programs host parent education events (held virtually at this time), so that parents can practice skills and network with other parents.

Speaking of networking, anything you can do to position your program as a valuable source of community information for families will increase engagement. When it is safe to do so, invite speakers to share information with families on a variety of topics.  Consider hosting these events virtually and making them available for for families to download at their convenience. Create a resource binder or designate a corner of the lobby where parents can go to find information about early intervention services, transition to kindergarten strategies, and even agencies that provide financial support during challenging times.  Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this information could be published on your program website under a community resources tab. Parents will appreciate the research you have done to gather the information they may need during a time when they cannot manage to conduct that research themselves.

For the article main article Boosting Family Engagement, CLICK HERE

For the article Types of Family Involvement, CLICK HERE

For the article Benefits of Increased Family Engagement, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner:  Creating and Implementing a Family Engagement Plan, CLICK HERE