Family and community partnerships consist of far more than public relations or sharing articles about practices to try at home.
A genuine family partnership prioritizes a two-way flow of information that engages parents and caregivers to guide decision making and sustainability of social emotional learning. A strong partnership leverages the expertise and diversity of our families to ensure that SEL is taught in culturally relevant ways that celebrate the assets, identity and diversity students bring to school.
Community partnerships help ensure that SEL is a priority beyond the school day. The community can also help ensure students and families have access to a broad range of SEL-related community services.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Awareness Foundation informs the community about the role of emotional trauma in mental, physical and behavioral health. It also implements innovative models that provide preventable and sustainable solutions to reducing toxic stress in family systems. The Foundation provides strategic oversight to the ACEs Task Force of Shelby County and Universal Parenting Places.
Our Family & Community Engagement (FACE) team works to provide supports that help address the social, emotional and academic needs of students and families, both at school and at home.
Epstein shows there are six general types of activities that can be identified to encourage parent and community involvement in a child's education:
Parenting: The goal is to help all families establish home environments that support children as students. Suggestions include: designing activities to help inform parents about child health, safety, nutrition and development, hosting workshops, producing videos and sharing resources via e-mail.
Communicating: Communication is at the heart of any partnership program and should involve all parents. Communication activities can include parent-teacher conferences, report cards, and newsletters, among other things. It’s also very important to consider translation of school materials that may be needed for multicultural families.
Volunteering: Recruiting and organizing parents to be active supporters in the school helps strengthen the climate and support system of a school. Parent volunteers can help teachers in class, work as safety patrols, offer expert advice to classes and provide other resources.
Learning at Home: Parents can be given information to help support learning at home. This includes information on study skills, homework, curriculum, educational decisions and planning for the future.
Decision-Making: Parents and community members must become a part of the decision-making process in a school or district. This can be done by including parents in PTA/PTO groups, advisory councils to the school board or principal, and independent advocacy groups to focus on particular issues and problems.
Collaborating with Community: Parents and educators can reach beyond the schools to learn to utilize local resources. Inform parents about outside services like tutoring or mentoring programs and helping businesses get involved with school reform efforts. Also, provide information on community activities that link families with learning skills and developing talents, including summer programs for students. Parents, educators, and the community can help improve education in the classroom by supporting leaders on the local and state levels.