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Why should family and community be connected to schools?
How do family and community involvement with schools relate to traditional educational ideas?
What does it have to do with my classroom?
How has thinking about family and community involvement changed in our schools?
What are the benefits of family and community connections?
What are some critical perspectives?
Another perspective



How has thinking about family and community involvement changed in our schools?


Feature

Here we see a class doing a lesson based on local urban planning.
Traditionally, parents were left to figure out if they wanted to be involved with their schools and their children's education -- and then figure out ways to become involved. The burden of engagement was placed squarely on the shoulders of parents and family members. A relatively new and powerful idea is that schools must take on this responsibility. Schools are now becoming actively involved in designing strategies to engage the community and include families in the education of their children.

Educators have usually targeted parents -- particularly mothers -- as the main active support for students in school. Recent research done by the Harvard Family Research Project has found that members of the extended family, including siblings, often work with school children. Simply targeting parents doesn't adequately capture what is happening in many families. There are many instances where grandparents are responsible for raising a child and have the time to attend parent-teacher conferences.


Feature

Eileen Wheeler, administrator at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York talks about the issues she faced in setting up their school-to-work program.
The role of parent volunteers has also seen an expansion. It has shifted from an emphasis on classroom assistant and helpers to include families taking part in fundraising, working as school advocates, and acting as agents of educational change.

Schools are also now opening their doors for more community resources to serve students and families. The existence of "full-service schools" or "school-linked services" shows that schools are paying attention not only to the academic needs of students but their holistic development. These full-service schools offer a broad range of health, counseling, social services, and after-school programs that enrich student learning and growth. They also support family involvement through parenting sessions, adult education, and training for leadership positions in school committees.

Some schools are also undergoing transformation through community-initiated activities. These communities are taking responsibility to use information about schools to offer fresh perspectives on school improvement. They are negotiating with schools on new solutions to recurring problems. Schools are beginning to change in ways that bring more voices to the decision-making table.


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Workshop: Making Family and Community Connections
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