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Earlier this week, I was privileged to be a part of the monthly National Conversation on Family Engagement hosted by Dr. Joni Samples, Chief Academic Officer of Family Friendly Schools. She facilitated an hour-long interview with Dr. Joyce Epstein, today’s family engagement research guru. Much of Dr. Epstein’s work can be found on her Partnership Schools website via Johns Hopkins University. The “conversation” was centered around Epstein’s Framework of Six Types of Family Involvement a listed below, as well as a Q&A session with audience participation. Each month, Dr. Samples sits down with a new Family and Community Engagement (FACE) leader to share the important work currently being done.
Epstein’s Framework of Six Types of Family Involvement
TYPE 1–PARENTING: Assist families with parenting and child-rearing skills, understanding child and adolescent development, and setting home conditions that support children as students at each age and grade level. Assist schools in understanding families.
TYPE 2–COMMUNICATING: Communicate with families about school programs and student progress through effective school-to-home and home-to-school communications.
TYPE 3–VOLUNTEERING: Improve recruitment, training, work, and schedules to involve families as volunteers and audiences at the school or in other locations to support students and school programs.
TYPE 4–LEARNING AT HOME: Involve families with their children in learning activities at home, including homework and other curriculum-linked activities and decisions.
TYPE 5–DECISION MAKING: Include families as participants in school decisions, governance, and advocacy through PTA/PTO, school councils, committees, and other parent organizations.
TYPE 6–COLLABORATING WITH THE COMMUNITY: Coordinate resources and services for families, students, and the school with businesses, agencies, and other groups, and provide services to the community.
Some thought-provoking quotes I took away from the 10/12/11 conversation…
- JE: “Family engagement is about the way you think.”
- JE: “Exemplary family engagement is based on interest.”
- JE: “Family engagement is just as important as the school’s reading program.”
- JE: “You cant fix FACE overnight like you can’t fix a reading program overnight.”
- JE: “Family engagement is about the way you think.
- JE: “FACE- It’s a long-term commitment.”
Archive of conference call w/ Dr. Joyce Epstein, dial 218-844-8799, then 917393, then reference 5#
As Epstein describes, Family and Community Engagement is vital to the success of today’s students. eFACE efforts are becoming more and more prevalent in today’s schools as educators look for innovative ways to engage even the most hard-to-reach parents. Lewin and Luckin (2010) found that participatory technologies can be especially engaging for families but schools have to use the technology purposefully and sensitively to meet the complex needs of families and across contexts.
In other words, schools cannot simply add a Facebook page or starting sending out Twitter messages and expect their families to automatically become engaged. Schools need to examine the needs of their schools and make decisions on using appropriate eFACE technologies accordingly. Today’s students already know how to use Facebook, Twitter and other social-networking tools without our help. The parents, however, are just learning many of these virtual hangouts. Professional development for parents is vital to implementing these new technologies to serve as eFaCE efforts. Some are just setting up an email account. Others might be tweeting to their friends using popular hashtags. Much like building capacity within our teachers, if we do not provide the time and training to learn how to use the technology, our parents will be left lost and the students will not benefit from even the most tech-savvy eFACE efforts.
The main thing to keep in mind is that technologies like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc. are not the solution to family engagement. They can serve as tools to help implement Epstein’s Six Types. Over the next few months, I’ll be reviewing each of Dr. Epstein’s “Types” and providing eFACE examples on how schools can use today’s budget-friendly technologies to help create, maintain and build upon these important connections. If you have an eFaCE practice you would like to share with other leaders, I encourage you to describe it in the comments section below.
Epstein, J.L., Coates, L., Salinas, K.C., Sanders, M.G., & Simon, B.S. (2009). School, Family, and Community Partnerships: Your Handbook for Action. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Lewin, C. & Luckin, R. (2010) Technology to Support Elementary Education in U.K. Schools: Lessons Learned. Computers & Education. Vol. 54 Issue 3, Pgs. 749-58.