My Best Posts On Parent Engagement In 2014 – So Far


Here are my choices for the best posts I’ve written on parent engagement in 2014 – So Far (by the way, you can find all my “The Best…” lists related to parent engagement here):

The Best Posts On The Migration Policy Institute Report On Engaging Immigrant Parents

Boy, These “Academic Parent-Teacher Teams” Sound Worse Every Time I Read About Them

The Best Posts On Involving Fathers In Schools

inBloom Officially Folds, Blaming Everybody But Itself & Its Funders For Failure

The Best Commentaries On The “Broken Compass” Parent Involvement Book

I Think This School Needs To Rethink How They Relate To Parents: “Parents reprimanded for taking children out of school for family funeral”

The “Tooth Fairy” Parent Engagement Strategy

A Parent-Teacher Conference Without Numbers

I’m Interviewed In Podcast “Parent Involvement Versus Parent Engagement: Is There Really a Difference?”

REALLY Interesting Story About New York City Public School Begun By Parents

The Difference Between Parent “Involvement” & Parent “Engagement”: Selected Tweets From #PTchat

This Is Why St. Paul Is A National Model Of Parent Engagement

Infographic: Math Cheat Sheet For Parents

Infographic: “Tips For Teachers On Family Engagement”

St. Paul Federation Of Teachers Is National Model For Engaging Parents

“The Power Of Parents” Is A Good New Report From Ed Source

Infographic: “Ways A Parent Can Help With Spelling”

British School Plans Hefty Parent Fines When Kids Are Late — Uh, I Think They Might Want To Rethink That…

The Best Student Projects That Need Family Engagement — Contribute Your Lessons!

The Best Posts On The inBloom Data Fiasco

I Don’t Think Taking & Throwing Out Students’ Lunches Because Their Parents Owe The School Money Is A Good Idea

I Don’t Think A Supt. Suspending A Principal Because She Supported PTO President Will Encourage Parent Engagement

“Keys To Parent Engagement – Relationships, Climate, Communication”

The Best Fifteen Minutes Of My Week

Worst Idea Of The Year: Don’t Attend Parent-Teacher Conference? Then We’ll Ban You From Attending Graduation Of Your Child

I Don’t Think Fining Parents For Taking Students Out Of School For A Week’s Vacation Is The Best Idea….

“Parents Can Teach Educators ‘Lessons About Learning and Life’”

Parent Engagement Is The Topic Of My Newest Ten Minute Podcast

“Parent Engagement Requires ‘Trust, Not Blame’”

My Best Posts On The Harlem Children’s Zone & Other “Promise Zones”

“Listening To Parents With Our Heads And Hearts”

The Best Articles Questioning The View That Single Parents Are A Problem

“Is Parental Input the Key to Healthy Student Eating Habits?”

Infographic: “Ways A Parent Can Help With Math”

Great Video: “Come Along on a Home Visit”

This Is A Good Attitude For Teachers To Take…

Ed Week Reports On How School Reformers Are Using Parents As “Foot Soldiers”

The Best Resources — Specifically For Parents — On Bullying


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The Best Posts On The Migration Policy Institute Report On Engaging Immigrant Parents

I’ve shared a number of reports on a recent Migration Policy Institute report on engaging immigrant parents.

I don’t think it shares anything that is particularly new to educators who work with immigrant students and their families, but it does bring a lot of useful information together in one place.

Here are analyses of the report:

Building on Immigrants’ Strengths to Improve Their Children’s Early Education is by Conor Williams.

Both NPR and Ed Week published pieces detailing the report.

The barriers keeping immigrant parents from getting involved in their kids’ education is the headline of a Vox article on the recent Migration Policy Institute report.

It pretty much goes over the same points those other pieces shared – except for how it ended:

But the report doesn’t mention the elephant in the room: it’s harder for unauthorized immigrant parents to get engaged in their kids’ educations. When parents are worried that any contact with a government employee will lead to their deportation, they’re much less likely to show up to parent-teacher conferences or have long talks with Head Start supervisors. That’s especially true when schools make an effort to make unauthorized immigrant parents feel unwelcome, by requiring them to get fingerprinted or show legal ID when they arrive at the school. And it can be exacerbated when federal immigration agents wait outside schools so that they can arrest parents after they’ve dropped off their children.

I’ll add this “Best” list to my other parent engagement-related ones.

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The Best Posts On Involving Fathers In Schools

The topic of increasing the involvement of fathers in schools has been garnering some attention lately, and I thought I’d bring together some of the previous posts on the topic together.

I was prompted to do so by today’s article in The Washington Post, Schools roll out the red carpet for dads who volunteer.

Coincidentally, I believe tonight’s #PTchat on Twitter was on this same subject, and I’ll a link to its transcript when it becomes available (here it is).

Here are my previous posts:

“Dads read to children in LA school to promote literacy”

“Nevada PTA Sets Example on Male Engagement”

“Engaging Fathers in Education”

“Houston Dad Learns Valuable Lessons Volunteering at School”

Prince George’s to discuss how to increase the number of fathers involved in education
is an article in The Washington Post.

Dads becoming more involved in their children’s education is a nice article in the Miami Herald that also links to other related pieces.

Feel free to make other suggestions in the comments section.

I’ll be adding this list to A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Parent Engagement.

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The Best Commentaries On The “Broken Compass” Parent Involvement Book

Don’t Help Your Kids With Their Homework is the title of an article that appeared a few weeks ago in The Atlantic.  It was written by Dana Goldstein.

It describes research shared in a new book, The Broken Compass:Parental Involvement With Children’s Education by two professors which, at least according to Dana Goldstein, questions most the effectiveness of what most of us would typically consider parent involvement/engagement. Based on what The Atlantic article says, this new research apparently disproves most of what you’ll find at “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement.”

I’m not convinced that everybody else is wrong and these professors are right, but I’ve ordered the book to see for myself what they have found.

The authors followed that up with a guest column in The New York Times with the decidedly unhelpful headline, Parental Involvement Is Overrated.

I’ll be writing my own thoughts on it as soon as I finish reading the books but, in the meantime, here are a few other commentaries written by others:

Inflated Research Claims Can Harm Children: Why “parental involvement” is not a “broken compass.” is a post by Marilyn Price-Mitchell that is also skeptical.

And respected parent engagement expert Karen Mapp recently sent out this tweet:


Speaking of tweets, here’s one sent out by researcher/author Alfie Kohn:


Correlation does not imply causation (parental involvement edition) is from Simply Statistics.

The New York Times published three letters to the editor on the infamous “Broken Compass” parent involvement op-ed and book.

The first one is good and the second one, by parenting researcher and professor Wendy Grolnick, is excellent.

Is Parent Involvement Really a Waste of Time? Recent Polemic versus the Research Record by Mai Miksic is an excellent response to the authors of the Broken Compass book. It was published by the CUNY Institute For Education Policy.

Here’s an excerpt:

“The weak empirical basis of Robinson and Harris’ book means it cannot in any way challenge the decades’ worth of research that has shown positive effects.”

NEA Today had an excellent article on the now infamous “Broken Compass” book questioning the value of parent involvement.

It quotes Anne Henderson, probably THE parent engagement/involvement expert in the United States.

Here’s a portion of what she had to say:

Anne T. Henderson, a senior consultant at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform and a leading expert on the relationship between families and schools, agrees and says Robinson and Harris draw upon a limited body of federal survey data to cobble together some rather expansive and faulty conclusions.

While she sees some value in pointing out some of the drawbacks of “garden variety” forms of parental engagement, Henderson cites numerous weaknesses in Robinson’s and Harris’ work, including the absence of any new data collected by the authors, the lack of proper context to a lot of the data (especially around the information provided by parents about their school-related activities) and the obviously flawed use of student test scores as the only measure of success.

Henderson also points out that much of Robinson’s and Harris’ works fails to take into account that correlation does not equal causation.

“What very well may be happening is that parents of kids who are struggling are the parents who are trying to help their kids with homework,” Henderson explains. “So it’s not necessarily the case that the parents’ help is causing the kids to do worse, it’s the fact that the kids are doing poorly that has triggered the parents to help.”

Parental involvement overrated? Don’t buy it is a very, very impressive response to the “Broken Compass” authors dismissal of most types of parent involvement.

It’s written by three college professors — By Todd Rogers, Lucas Coffman and Peter Bergman — and appeared on the CNN website.

I can’t emphasize enough that people should read the entire post, but here’s an excerpt:

Citing their research, the authors of the Times piece, Keith Robinson and Angel L. Harris, describe provocative findings that show that students of parents who are very involved in their children’s education perform worse than students of parents who are less involved.

While the authors control for certain variables, their research only implies there is a relationship between parental involvement and student performance. This caveat is important; the existence of a relationship does not tell us what causes what.

Think of it this way: If you had two children, and one was getting A’s and the other C’s, which of them would you help more? The C student. An outsider, noticing that you’ve spent the school year helping only one of your children, might infer that parental help caused that child to earn lower grades. This of course would not be the case, and inferring causation here would be a mistake.

Does Family Engagement Matter? is a response to the now infamous “Broken Compass” book questioning the usefulness of parent involvement.

It’s written by three of the top experts in the field – Karen L. Mapp, Anne T. Henderson, and Nancy E. Hill.

The School Community Journal is a must-read for anyone involved in parent engagement activities, and you can access the new issue online here. I’m particularly impressed with Lee Shumow’s critique/review of the infamous Broken Compass book which leads off the issue.

I’ll be adding more to this list.

And I’ll be adding this post to A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Parent Engagement.

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My Best Posts On Parent Engagement Over The Past Three Months


I thought readers, and I, would find it useful to review and list my choices for the best posts on parent engagement I’ve written since I posted My Best Posts On Parent Engagement In 2013 three months ago.

You can also see all my “Best” lists related to parent engagement here.

Here are My Best Posts On Parent Engagement Over The Past Three Months:

Infographic: Math Cheat Sheet For Parents

Infographic: “Tips For Teachers On Family Engagement”

St. Paul Federation Of Teachers Is National Model For Engaging Parents

“The Power Of Parents” Is A Good New Report From Ed Source

Infographic: “Ways A Parent Can Help With Spelling”

British School Plans Hefty Parent Fines When Kids Are Late — Uh, I Think They Might Want To Rethink That…

The Best Student Projects That Need Family Engagement — Contribute Your Lessons!

The Best Posts On The inBloom Data Fiasco

I Don’t Think Taking & Throwing Out Students’ Lunches Because Their Parents Owe The School Money Is A Good Idea

I Don’t Think A Supt. Suspending A Principal Because She Supported PTO President Will Encourage Parent Engagement

“Keys To Parent Engagement – Relationships, Climate, Communication”

The Best Fifteen Minutes Of My Week

Worst Idea Of The Year: Don’t Attend Parent-Teacher Conference? Then We’ll Ban You From Attending Graduation Of Your Child

I Don’t Think Fining Parents For Taking Students Out Of School For A Week’s Vacation Is The Best Idea….

“Parents Can Teach Educators ‘Lessons About Learning and Life’”

Parent Engagement Is The Topic Of My Newest Ten Minute Podcast

“Parent Engagement Requires ‘Trust, Not Blame’”

My Best Posts On The Harlem Children’s Zone & Other “Promise Zones”

“Listening To Parents With Our Heads And Hearts”

The Best Articles Questioning The View That Single Parents Are A Problem

“Is Parental Input the Key to Healthy Student Eating Habits?”

Infographic: “Ways A Parent Can Help With Math”

Great Video: “Come Along on a Home Visit”

This Is A Good Attitude For Teachers To Take…

Ed Week Reports On How School Reformers Are Using Parents As “Foot Soldiers”

The Best Resources — Specifically For Parents — On Bullying


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The Best Student Projects That Need Family Engagement — Contribute Your Lessons!

I’d like to create a very lengthy list of lessons that require students to engage with their parents and families in a positive way.

I know I’ve previously posted about some, but I need to track them down. I’m also hoping that lots of teachers will send in summaries of successful lessons that they’ve done. I’ll add them to list and, of course, give you credit.

You can find all my parent engagement-related “Best” lists here.

Here’s what I have so far:

Curious Homework: An Inquiry Project for Students and Parents is by Suzie Boss.

Good Teachers Embrace Their Students’ Cultural Background is an article from The Atlantic.

Here’s an excerpt:

Culturally responsive teaching doesn’t mean lowering standards, Irvine says. Take dialect, for example. Teachers need to help students speak and write in Standard English, but they’ll be more successful in that effort if they begin by respecting the way a student and his family speak at home.

Creating a link between home and school can enrich all kinds of lessons. Teachers can ask their students to interview their communities and condense the information into a letter to the mayor. Parents can be invited into the classroom to talk about their work. Students can be asked to think critically about articles and texts, exploring them for signs of cultural bias.

Interactive Homework Spurs Parent Involvement, Study Finds is the title of a useful blog post by Sarah Sparks over at Education Week. Here’s an excerpt:

Homework assignments that require help from family members can get parents more involved in middle school, a time many parents become less visible in school, concludes a new study in the School Community Journal…

…During a seven-week trial during the 2010-11 school year, 192 students in nine 8th-grade classes were given one assignment each week using the Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork, or TIPS, program, which includes assignments that require students to discuss concepts they learn in class with a family member to complete projects.

Reader Lori Lee contributes idea:

is a PBL lesson from the Buck Institute where students interview a family member about their life experiences and then create a nonfiction narrative based on a story from the interview. From here students then publish the collection of stories using an online publisher and organize a book launch event to the stores with family and public. I did project last year and it was amazing! I am in the middle of it right now and I still love project!

Maria Caplin contributes this idea:

Every year to start our measurement unit, I don’t assign any math HW except to have the students cook with their parents. Always a huge success. Here is my link.

I published a post titled The Importance Of Telling “Family Stories.” In it, I discussed an article that reviewed a number of studies that found value in parents telling their children about family stories.

The Washington Post wrote a more in-depth piece about one of those studies, and included a pretty useful “Do You Know” series of questions that teachers could easily give to students as an assignment. I love projects that require students asking their parents questions, and this one would be perfect.

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The Best Posts On The inBloom Data Fiasco

I’ve written several posts about the inBloom data fiasco — inBloom is the company that’s basically trying to collect, store and share student data and is supported by the Gates Foundation.

I thought I’d put together a quick Best list:

Where inBloom Wilted is from Ed Surge.

Irate Parents Fight to Keep Information on Their Kids Private is the headline of an article about an effort to create a national student data base with inBloom.

Here’s a quote from it:

“But the main issue is this: No one consulted parents as to whether they wanted their child’s data collected or stored this way, just as no one asked them if they wanted their children to be tested to the degree they are,” Naison [Mark Naison, a professor at Fordham University]said.

Deciding Who Sees Students’ Data is a fairly lengthy article in The New York Times about the inBloom data collection system.

Here’s an excerpt:

Yet, for all of inBloom’s neutral-sounding intentions, industry analysts say it has stirred some parents’ fears about the potential for mass-scale surveillance of students. Parents like Rachael Stickland, a mother of two Jeffco students, say that schools are amassing increasing amounts of information about K-12 students with little proof that it will foster their critical thinking or improve their graduation rates.

“It’s a new experiment in centralizing massive metadata on children to share with vendors,” she said, “and then the vendors will profit by marketing their learning products, their apps, their curriculum materials, their video games, back to our kids.”

Your child’s data is stored in the cloud is a new article at CNN about the inBloom data collection system.

Here’s an excerpt from CNN’s article:

Streichenberger says inBloom is providing the “plumbing” to fix school districts’ currently disjointed systems. School districts control the data, though they may share that information with third-parties if they choose.

That promise has offered little comfort to many parents in school districts that use inBloom. Some parents in those districts feel that there’s not enough transparency around the data platform, what data will be stored, and who will have access to it. InBloom says it’s up to the states to determine what data is stored and whether parents have access.

Sprowal says parents were not adequately notified before her son’s school district started loading data on to the platform.

“I think if there was full disclosure, transparency, if they included us in the process, as they were developing it … it would have been fine,” she said. “It would have … put some constraints on it.”

inBloom lost its only remaining customer when New York State withdrew from it.

Here’s an excerpt from The Wall Street Journal:

New York has reversed course to use an Atlanta-based company to store student data for parents and officials to use to track student progress, after the plan triggered privacy concerns and a legal challenge….

“We will not store any student data with inBloom, and we have directed inBloom to securely delete all the non-identifiable data that has been stored,” a statement Wednesday from state Education Department spokesman Dennis Tomkins said.

InBloom was founded in 2013 with $100 million in grant money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corp. The technology drew early interest from several states, but New York was the only one fully involved.

The Hechinger Report has since written a thorough obituary of inBloom, The fate of big data after inBloom.

I’ve chronicled the ongoing fiasco of the Gates Foundation-founded-and-financed inBloom student data-vacuuming service called inBloom.

As usual, these guys never bothered asking parents and teachers what they thought before they initiated their bright idea and, now that they announced its dissolution, they’re blaming everybody but themselves and their funders.

You can read all about it at these two articles:

InBloom Student Data Repository to Close is from The New York Times.

inBloom to Shut Down Amid Growing Data-Privacy Concerns is from Education Week.

I’m adding this list to A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Parent Engagement.

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My Best Posts On The Harlem Children’s Zone & Other “Promise Zones”

, President Obama announced grants to five communities designated at “Promise Zones” that are planned to replicate — more or less — the Harlem Children’s Zone.

I’ve published many posts about the Harlem Children’s Zone — both positive and less than positive — including concerns about parent engagement and how they relate to local institutions. Though I don’t know all the specifics of these five new communities, it will be interesting to see how genuinely involved parents are in their efforts.

First, I’ll a few posts about President Obama’s announcements. Then, I’ll list links to my previous posts:

What Exactly Do Obama’s Zones Have to Do With Education, Anyway? is from Ed Week, and is a must-read.

President Obama Unfurls a New Place-Based Program: Promise Zones is from Non-Profit Quarterly.

Obama Administration Announces the First Five Promise Zone Designees is from the US Department of Agriculture.

Eight southeastern Kentucky counties named “Promise Zone” by President Barack Obama is from the Courier-Journal.

Here are links to my previous posts:

“Lauded Harlem Schools Have Their Own Problems”

Promise Neighborhood Award Winners Announced

One More Post On HCZ

More Fascinating Stuff On The Harlem Children’s Zone

More On The Harlem Children’s Zone

Great Discussion on Harlem Children’s Zone

“Promise Neighborhoods” Resource

NPR Series On Harlem Children’s Zone Replication

Replicating The Harlem Children’s Zone

“Promise Neighborhoods” Competition Begins

60 Minutes Segment On Harlem Children’s Zone

Harlem Children’s Zone Conference

“Whatever It Takes”

“Harlem Program Singled Out as Model”

“Famed Harlem Children’s Program Will Get New Leader”

“Schools central to Promise Zone anti-poverty strategy”

Associated Press Feature On “Promise Neighborhoods”

I’ll add list to my collection of other parent engagement related ones….

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The Best Articles Questioning The View That Single Parents Are A Problem

As most people know, there is a common narrative suggesting that single-parent households can be a cause of many problems affecting children — in and out of school.

I’ve previously posted some articles questioning that view, and a new study has just been published. I thought it would be worthwhile to put them all in one post:

Marriage Promotion Has Failed to Stem Poverty Among Single Moms has just been published at Science Daily. Here’s an excerpt:

In fact, research shows that single mothers living in impoverished neighborhoods are likely to marry men who won’t help them get out of poverty. These men are likely to have children from other partnerships, lack a high school diploma, and have been incarcerated or have substance abuse problems, Williams noted.

Those who do marry usually don’t stay that way. One study found that nearly two-thirds of single mothers who married were divorced by the time they reached 44 years old.

“Single mothers who marry and later divorce are worse off economically than single mothers who never marry,” she said.

Promoting marriage among single mothers may not help their children, either. Recent research by Williams and several colleagues found no physical or psychological advantages for the majority of teenagers born to a single mother who later married.

Rather than promoting marriage, the government should focus on preventing unintended births, Williams said. She found in one study that having a child outside of marriage is associated with negative mental health outcomes among African American women only when the birth was unexpected.

Here are other articles:

Check out ‘The Atlantic’ Is Wrong About Married Parents Producing Richer Kids.

What Makes a Healthy Family is an article at the Pacific Standard. Here’s an excerpt:

Lamb explains that, despite their high rates of poverty, “the majority of children raised in single-parent or divorced families are well-adjusted,” even if outcomes are slightly more negative overall than for kids raised in “traditional” families. It’s an open question whether it’s the money or the family structure itself holding back that minority of children of single parents that turn out maladjusted.

Single Parents Aren’t The Problem: Show Me the Numbers: Who’s at home doesn’t affect a child’s education as much as you may think is one of the more interesting article I think you’re going to see onthis topic. It’s written by Professor Ivory A. Toldson and appeared in “The Root.”

Blaming Poverty on Single Parents Is Win-Win for Republicans, Evidence Be Damned is an extensive Atlantic article.

It’s a must-read piece. Here’s an excerpt:

And is where everyone should be screaming from the rooftops: “Correlation isn’t causation!” If you don’t have access to a roof, stand on your desk like you’re in Dead Poet’s Society and bellow, “Just because poverty is more common among the unmarried doesn’t mean it’s a function of being unmarried!” Yell that. Yell that to the heavens!

The New York Times has now published an exceptional article titled Can Marriage Cure Poverty?

I think it’s a “must-read.” Here’s an excerpt:

But even if Washington got rid of all its dumb and ineffective policies to promote marriage and implemented a number of smart ones to do so, it might all be for naught. Some researchers think that marriage — or a lack thereof — is not the real problem facing poor parents; being poor is. “It isn’t that having a lasting and successful marriage is a cure for living in poverty,” says Kristi Williams of Ohio State University. “Living in poverty is a barrier to having a lasting and successful marriage.”

To understand why, it is worth looking at the economic fortunes of the poor in isolation — marriage rates and childbearing out of wedlock aside. Globalization, the decline of labor unions, technological change and other tidal economic forces have battered the poor, with years of economic growth failing to lift their prospects. These forces have inevitably affected young people’s choices, researchers think.

In an economy that offers so little promise to those at the bottom, family planning in the name of upward mobility doesn’t make much sense. “Engaging in family formation by accident rather than by design, you get a story of low-opportunity costs,” says Kathryn Edin, the poverty researcher at Johns Hopkins. “We’ve created the situation where pregnancy is not the worst thing that can happen to you. It can be seen as a path to redemption in an otherwise violent, unpredictable, hopeless world.”

Similar forces might also spur some young couples not to get married, even if they want to. Many poor women opt not to marry the poor men in their lives, for instance, to avoid bringing more economic chaos into their homes. And the poor women who do marry tend to have unstable marriages — often to ill effect. One study, for instance, found that single mothers who married and later divorced were worse off economically than those who did not marry at all. “These women revere marriage, they want to get married,” Williams says. “They aren’t making an irrational choice not to marry.”

Check out The relationship between single mothers and poverty is not as simple as it seems at The Washington Post.

You can see all my parent-related “Best” lists here.

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The Best Resources — Specifically For Parents — On Bullying

I have an extensive “Best” list at my other blog titled A Very, Very Beginning List Of The Best Resources On Bullying.

In addition, I’ve published several posts in this blog about bullying resources specifically for parents, and thought bringing them together in one list would be useful.

You can find all my parent “Best” lists here.

Feel free to make other suggestions…

The BBC has published  What should you do if your child is ‘the bully’?

What to do if your child is accused of being a bully is from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and offers pretty decent advice.
If a Child Is Bullied, Parents Offer Advice on When and How to Intervene is a useful piece in The New York Times, and don’t neglect reading the comments.

Bullying is parents’ big fear as children start secondary school, survey finds is an article in the Guardian reporting on a recent survey.

It’s subtitled:

Parents say bullying is greater concern than alcohol, while children themselves worry most about making the right friends

Busting parents won’t stop cyberbullies, experts say is from NBC News.

Here’s an excerpt I particularly liked:

Tragedies like Sedwick’s suicide can spark the hunt for a scapegoat, but prosecuting parents isn’t the solution, says Sameer Hinduja, a criminal justice professor at Florida Atlantic University and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. “Legislators and politicians jump in and say we’ve got to pass laws, have stronger sanctions. But when you think it through and ask what’s going to deter someone from messing up the same way again, (prosecuting the parents) is not the best way to respond. “

Legal sanctions imposed on parents could pit the child against the parents, Hinduja added. “The child will be in trouble even further, perhaps for getting the parent into trouble,” he said.

Even the most well-intentioned parents cannot police their kids’ social-networking habits around the clock, said Tina Meier, whose 13-year-old daughter Megan committed suicide in 2006 after allegedly being hoaxed and bullied on the social network MySpace by Lori Drew, the mother of one of Megan’s former friends. Drew was found guilty by a federal jury of three computer-crime misdemeanors. In 2009, a federal judge vacated the conviction.

“Is it important for us to hold parents accountable for their children’s actions?” Meier asked. “Yes. But it’s impossible for parents to be there 24 hours a day.”

There are many parents “who truly simply don’t know about it, or who are really trying (to monitor their children’s computer use),” Meier told NBC News.

Casey M., a 17-year-old Internet safety advocate from New Rochelle, N.Y., feels indicting parents for their kids’ online bullying acts will have “an inverse effect” and increase online tormenting. Casey M. is part of the national Teen Angels campaign, which speaks to parents and teenagers about Internet safety and cyberbullying. Group members don’t use their last names when speaking with the media.

“The more that parents try to control what their kids are doing online, the more sneaky kids get, and the less parents know what their kids are doing online,” Casey M. said, adding that she’s never faced serious cyberbullying. “The kids would try to hide things a little more.”

Yes, parents need support and encouragement to monitor and teach their children. I just get very uncomfortable with the emphasis on punishing parents. I’ve previously posted about a number of instances where public officials seem to want to use that as their main strategy to encourage parent involvement — it’s certainly easier than the slow process of building relationships, spending time on encouragement, and leading with our ears instead of our mouths….

Anti-Bullying from the Parent’s Perspective is a useful post from Think Inclusive.

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My Best Posts On Parent Engagement In 2013


Here are my choices for the best posts I’ve written on parent engagement in 2013 — well, at least since April when I published My Best Posts On Parent Engagement In 2013 — So Far (by the way, you can find all my “The Best…” lists related to parent engagement here):

Come On, Now – Schools Giving “Stamps” For Each Parent Involvement Activity?

The Best Multilingual Resources For Parents

The Best Resources For Learning About Community Schools

A Beginning List Of The Best Resources On Using Technology To Help Engage Parents

Great Article About Teachers Making Home Visits In Minnesota

The Best Resources On Pre-School Parent Engagement

Hmmm, Why Don’t I Have Much Confidence In Chicago Superintendent’s Parent Engagement Plan?

Writing Letters To Parents At The Start Of The Year

“Poll: Parents don’t support many education policy changes” (Plus, Links To Previous Polls)

The Best Resources To Help Engage Parents Of Children With Special Needs – Help Me Find More

What Is It With School District Attorneys This Week?

This Blog Is Now Four Years Old — Here Are Its Most Popular Posts During That Time

Wow, The Second “Must-Read” Parent Engagement Study In A Week!

Must-Read Report: “What Roles Do Parent Involvement, Family Background, and Culture Play in Student Motivation?”

All My Ed Week Posts On Parent Engagement In One Place

My Advice To Parents In “USA Weekend”

The Best Infographics About Parent Involvement In Schools

Excellent Article On Teachers Making Home Visits — & It Features Our School!

The Best Education Blogs For Parents

The Best Posts On Parents “Opting-Out” Of Standardized Tests For Their Children

The Best Resources For Talking To Parents About The Common Core Standards

Learning Parent Engagement Lessons From…The Ritz-Carlton Hotel?

Not Very Interesting Parent Involvement Survey From U.S. Dept. Of Ed — Except for One Result

Parents As Teachers

“Five Stereotypes About Poor Families And Education”

“Program aims to get parents on their children’s academic team”

San Diego Controversy Shows How Rich “School Reformers” Damage Genuine Parent Engagement

The Best Resources For Learning About The “Word Gap”


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The Best Resources For Learning About The “Word Gap”

There has recently been a flurry of media attention to what is called the so-called “word gap.” It’s the term used to describe the difference in vocabulary development of low-income children and middle-and-high-income children during their pre-school years.

In addition to the media attention, there have been some high-profile efforts at trying to respond to the issue, and that’s where it gets particularly controversial. I thought a “Best” list here on the topic might be useful to readers:

I’d say the best piece that talks about the issue has been written by Esther Quintero at The Albert Shanker Institute. It’s titled The ‘early language gap’ is about more than words.

She followed that up by creating this short video:

Here are some of my previous posts on the topic:

Chicago Program Emphasizes Quality Of Parent/Child Interaction Key To Growth, Not Increasing Quantity Of Vocabulary

Another Reason To Wonder About Huge Parent Engagement Experiment In Providence

Could Providence’s Word Counting Project Be A “Boondoggle” As Well As Being Creepy?

Providence Wins Grant For Project That May Hold Promise, But Also Sounds A Bit Creepy

Intriguing Study Seems To Question Importance Of Word Quantity Spoken To Young Children

“Efforts To Close The Achievement Gap In Kids Start At Home”

Here are some additional resources:

Too Small To Fail is a project that Hillary Clinton has begun.

The 32-Million Word Gap is by David Shenk.

More Effective, Less Expensive, Still Controversial: Maximizing Vocabulary Growth In Early Childhood is from The Shanker Blog.

Can We Disrupt Poverty by Changing How Poor Parents Talk to Their Kids? is from The Atlantic.

We Need a Nuremberg Code for Big Data is from Slate.

Trying to Close a Knowledge Gap, Word by Word is an article and video from The New York Times that gives a pretty good over of research, concerns and potential strategies related to the “word gap.”

It includes discussion about the Rhode Island that’s inserting recording devices into children’s clothing, which I have previously posted about skeptically (though I’ve tried to maintain an open mind).

More non-profits teaching parents to read with children is a post at Ed Source describing programs helping parents to get their children reading early and the research behind the efforts.

“Coaching parents on toddler talk to address low-income word gap” is a pretty interesting report from the PBS News Hour.

I’ve embedded the video below, and you can see the transcript here.

You can see all my parent-related “Best” lists at A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Parent Engagement.

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The Best Posts On Parents “Opting-Out” Of Standardized Tests For Their Children

Here’s a short and sweet list on topic, and I hope others will suggest additional links.

I’ll be adding list to A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Parent Engagement.

Parent Jiggernaut Follow-Up: Opting out vs. Opting In is a thoughtful post by Rachel Levy.

Wary of standardized testing, parents are increasingly opting their kids out of exams is from The Washington Post.

“Parents sign petition against use of FCAT” is the headline of a Miami Herald article.

The article begins:

The petition, gaining traction in parts of Florida and around the country, urges education administrators to rely less on standardized tests and use other measures to evaluate students, schools and teachers.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools has instituted 52 new standardized tests, and parents are up in arms about it.

You can read about it in The Washington Post at School district field-tests 52 (yes, 52) new tests on kids.

You can also visit the website of the parents group organizing against them — Mecklenburg ACTS.

‘What we’ve got here is failure to communicate’ is an excellent post by Carol Burris in The Washington Post.

In it, she criticizes many who blame the fact that more and more parents are “opting out” of having their children take standardized tests solely on “communication” issues:

It is all seen as just a failure to communicate. And therein lies the problem. The focus on communication, rather than on a response to concerns, demonstrates a lack of faith in the ability of parents and teachers to understand what is occurring. Parents understand the high-stakes testing rationale. They just don’t buy it. The interpretation of grassroots parental opposition as a “communication failure” communicates arrogance. It is the ultimate “nanny state” response—you do not understand what we know, and what we know and do are best for you.

Turn On, Tune In, Opt Out is an article in The Nation about the growing popularity of efforts by parents to have their children “opt-out” of taking standardized tests.

Chicago Teachers Union urges parents to oppose standardized tests for young kids is an article in the Chicago Sun-Times about a teacher/parent campaign against the pressure of standardized tests:

When Parents Yank Their Kids Out of Standardized Tests is an article in the Atlantic, by Alexander Russo, that gives a good overview of the “opt-out” movement.

The Defiant Parents: Testing’s Discontents is an excellent piece in The New Yorker.

Here’s an excerpt:

Parents who complain about testing—particularly affluent, educated ones—are easily derided, as they were by Arne Duncan, President Obama’s Education Secretary, a few months ago, when he described critics of the Common Core as “white suburban moms who—all of a sudden—[find] their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.” But parents who challenge the status quo on testing are not motivated by a deluded pride in their children’s unrecognized accomplishments, or by a fear that their property values will diminish if their schools’ scores’ drop. They are, in many cases, driven by a conviction that a child’s performance on a standardized test is an inadequate, unreliable measure of that child’s knowledge, intelligence, aptitude, diligence, and character—and a still more unreliable measure of his teachers’ effort, skill, perseverance, competence, and kindness.

Most States Lack Opt-Out Policies – But Parents Find A Way is a very interesting and useful post by Alexander Russo.

The post gives a very good overview of state laws on “opting out” of standardized tests.

It appears that some schools are making it very difficult for parents to “opt-out” of standardized testing for their child. I’m not sure if this attitude is the best one to take to further parent engagement….

Read about what’s happening in Colorado and in Chicago.

Standing Up to Testing is a New York Times article on parents opting their students out of standardized testing in New York City.

Here’s an excerpt:

This movement of refusal does not evolve out of antipathy toward rigor and seriousness, as critics enjoy suggesting, but rather out of advocacy for more comprehensive forms of assessment and a depth of intellectual experience that test-driven pedagogy rarely allows. In the past year, the movement has grown considerably among parents and educators, across political classifications and demographics.

Here’s an excerpt from Valerie Strauss’ piece at The Washington Post:

The editorial board of a big-city newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, has gone on record as not only supporting the right of parents to have their children opt out of high-stakes standardized tests but also saying they are “right to protest” in this manner.

“Parents have few, if any venues to express their concerns”

The above quotation is from Jose Luis Vilson, who contributed to the New York Times “Room For Debate” forum on Should Parents Opt Out of Testing?

Check out his full contribution and comments from others.

The Middle Ground Between Opt Out And All In is a very thoughtful post by Matthew Di Carlo at The Shanker Blog.

Thanks to Bill Ferriter, I’ve learned about a Georgia school district who had a police officer tell parents who were opting out of state tests that they would and their children would be trespassing if they were on school grounds during the testing and then threatened to ban their kids from a field trip because of their actions.

And there’s a lot more.

Read Area couple battles elementary school over CRCT testing.

Here’s an excerpt:

when it comes to “opting out,” what’s important to me is the idea that you don’t have to agree with its proponents’ solution to acknowledge that they may be correct about the existence of a problem. There are good and bad policy applications happening right now, and it’s important to address the bad ones and build on the good ones.

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The Best Resources For Talking To Parents About The Common Core Standards

I’m no big fan of the Common Core Standards, but they are a reality for most of us.

If teachers are ever in situations where they have to explain them to parents, or if there are parents who want to understand more about them, here are some relatively useful resources:

How Educators Can Address Parents’ Confusion About Common Core is from Mind/Shift.

Common Core for ELLs: Ten things parents should know about the Common Core Standards is from Colorin Colorado.

5 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About The Common Core is from The American Enterprise Institute.

The PTA has a series of booklets in English and in Spanish. Go here and scroll down to “The Parents’ Guide To Student Success.”

What Parents Need to Know About Common Core State Standards is from Reading Rockets.

Spotlight on the Common Core State Standards – What Do Parents Need to Know? is from Education Northwest.

In Push For ‘Common’ Standards, Many Parents Left Uneducated comes from NPR.

What Should Teachers Tell Parents About The Common Core? is a series of teacher-written commentaries at Education Week Teacher.

A Lesson on the Common Core is a good short and sweat summary of the Common Core for parents. It’s by Jessica Lahey, and appeared in The New York Times.

The official Common Core Standards site unveiled a new design in an effort to make it more accessible and understandable to parents.

NBC Education Nation “Parent Toolkit”

Learning First shared that the National PTA has released fourteen videos explaining Common Core to parents. You can find them all here.

You can see all my parent engagement-related “Best” lists here.

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The Best Infographics About Parent Involvement In Schools

is a beginning list of the best infographics about parent involvement.

You can see all my parent involvement/engagement-related “Best” lists here.


You can find a bigger version here.

An Infographic by Open Colleges

Embed Infographic

An Infographic by Open Colleges
Parent Volunteers in the Classroom

Explore more infographics like one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

The National PTA has created a nice infographic titled “Tips For Teachers On Family Engagement.”

You can download the entire infographic here. Here’s a partial screenshot:


I’m going to add this infographic, but I hope a math teacher out there will tell me if it’s accurate or not….

Click image to see a larger version
Math Cheat SheetMath Cheat Sheet via Math Game Time

Here’s a visual representation of parent involvement researcher Joyce Epstein’s work:

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The Best Education Blogs For Parents

10 Amazing Education Blogs for Parents is a helpful post from Ed Tech Review that I learned about from Starr Sackstein.

I think they missed a few important ones, though, so I decided to make my own list. Let me know if you think I’m missing some:

Parent Cortical Mass

Raising Modern Learners

Joe Mazza’s blog, eFace Today

Our School: Parents As Partners

ParentNet Unplugged from Parent Involvement Matters

K-12 Parents and the Public is from Education Week.

Parents Across America

You can find all my parent-related “Best” lists here.

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“Poll: Parents don’t support many education policy changes” (Plus, Links To Previous Polls)

Updated: Here are two more articles about the poll:

What parents really think about school reform is by Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post.

AFT: Current Ed. Policies Don’t Work, Are Unpopular With Parents is from Education Week.

Poll: Parents don’t support many education policy changes is the headline of a Washington Post article . Here are the first two paragraphs:

Most parents with children in public schools do not support recent changes in education policy, from closing low-performing schools to shifting public dollars to charter schools to private school vouchers, according to a new poll to be released Monday by the American Federation of Teachers.

The poll, conducted by Democratic polling firm Hart Research Associates, surveyed 1,000 parents this month and found that most would rather see their neighborhood schools strengthened and given more resources than have options to enroll their children elsewhere.

Some might question it impartiality because of the AFT’s involvement, but the results are reflective of past polls done by other groups.

Here’s another summary of the same poll: What Parents Want For Education Policy

I’m turning this post into something of a “The Best…” list, and here are links to posts about previous polls:

The Best Posts/Articles On This Year’s Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup Education Poll — 2012

Gallup Poll On Education Issues Just Released 2011

Gallup Poll On Education Issues Released 2010

“Public Attitudes Toward The Public Schools” 2009

U.S. “Survey finds parent-teacher relationships strong–Teachers given grade of “A””

“Parents Agree – Better Assessments, Less High-Stakes Testing”

On the heels of the poll mentioned at the beginning of this post, another came out contradicting it. However, here are two posts analyzing this new polls lack of credibility:

Do Parents Support High-Stakes Testing? is a great post by Diane Ravitch responding to a new poll supposedly finding that parents support these tests.

Associated Press Propaganda: What the AP Survey Really Shows is from Accomplished California Teachers, and links to an exhaustive analysis.

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The Best Resources To Help Engage Parents Of Children With Special Needs – Help Me Find More

I’m beginning this list with a few resources, but hope that readers will contribute a lot more.

You can see all my parent-engagement related “The Best…” lists here.

Here is a very beginning list of The Best Resources To Help Engage Parents Of Children With Special Needs:

The LD Navigator is an online tool designed to help health care professionals talk to parents about learning disabilities. However, it also seems to me that it could be very helpful directly to parents and to teachers who want to learn more about them. You can read more about it at Ed Week.

“What You Should Know About IEP Plans For Special Needs Students” is a useful post.

Four Important Signs That Your Child’s IEP Is Workingshares some suggestions to parents from The National Center For Learning Disabilities. It also includes ideas what to do it you feel it isn’t working.

New law aids parents of special needs children in dealing with school districts is an article in the Tampa Bay Times about a new state law in Florida, but it offers some perspectives helpful for parents (and teachers) of special needs children everywhere.

U.S. Department of Education Awards $14 Million to Special Education Parent Technical Assistance Centers is the headline of a US DOE press release.

Here’s an excerpt:

The U.S. Department of Education announced more than $14 million in five-year grants to operate eight special education parent technical assistance centers that work to assist families of children with disability. The eight centers set to receive funding include one Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR); six Regional Parent Technical Assistance Centers (RPTACs); and one Native American Parent Technical Assistance Center (NAPTAC).

The centers will use the funding to improve the information they provide parents on laws, policies, and evidence-based education practices affecting children with disabilities. The centers will also use the funding to explore how data can be used to inform instruction; how to interpret results from evaluations and assessments; and ways to effectively engage in school reform activities, including how to interpret and use the data that informs those activities.

“Parents will always be their children’s first and most important teachers, and can have tremendous impact on their kids’ readiness to learn at every stage of the education pipeline,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “These grants will help special education parent technical assistance centers enhance the important services they provide to families across the country.”

I’m not familiar with these centers, and don’t know how useful or responsive they are to parent needs (I’d love to hear comments about them).

Special Education Toolkit: Resources is from the National PTA and it has a lot of…resources related to special education.

How to be an advocate for your (special needs) child by Jovan Miles could be a very useful post to share with parents.

Where to Turn When the School Wants to Have Your Child ‘Tested’ is a useful New York Times post by Jessica Lahey.

Please suggest more resources!

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This Blog Is Now Four Years Old — Here Are Its Most Popular Posts During That Time

I began this blog four years ago, shortly after my book, Building Parents In Schools, was published. I thought it would be interesting, and perhaps helpful, to share its most popular posts during that time.

You might also be interested in:

My Most Popular Parent Engagement Posts Of The Year — 2012

My Most Popular Parent Engagement Posts Of The Year — 2010

Here are my most popular parent engagement posts over the past four years:

1. The Best Sources Of Parent Engagement Advice For Teachers

2. Good Middle School Journal Article On Parent Involvement

3. Another Reason Why We Need To Be Careful How We Speak To Parents About Their Children

4. Jeez, What Was Ron Clark Thinking?

5. The Worst Parent Engagement Ideas

6. The Best Resources On Parent/Teacher Conferences

7. The Best Resources For Learning About Teacher Home Visits

8. The Best Ideas On How Parents Can Help Their Kids Succeed Academically

9. “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement”

10. A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Parent Engagement

11. Teachers Have Got To Stop Blaming Parents

12. What A Terrible Video About Parents & Schools With A Terrible Message

13. The Power Of A Positive Phone Call Home

14. Some Of These “Parent Academies” Just Don’t Get It….

15. Chart: Useful Summary Of The Differences Between Parent Involvement & Parent Engagement

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The Best Resources On Pre-School Parent Engagement

I have many “Best” lists on multiple aspects of parent engagement, but thought with all the recent talk about expanding early education, a list on pre-school parent engagement would be useful.

You can see all my parent engagement “Best” lists here.

Here are my choices for The Best Resources On Pre-School Parent Engagement:

Preschools Aim to Better Equip Low-Income Parents is a brand new article at Education Week.

Head Start has a series of downloadable flyers in their Importance of Home Language Series that are in English and Spanish. They’re useful for educators and for parents.

Here’s an article about Head Start’s home visiting program, Head Start casts parents in educator’s role, and it’s worth a read….

Two new studies were just released examining Head Start. They were mixed in some areas, but positive about its effect on parent engagement.

Here’s an excerpt from a summary:

One of the studies, by the nonprofit Mathematica Policy Research, found that parents of children enrolled in Head Start became more engaged in teaching their children at home: They increased (slightly) the frequency that they told their children stories, played games, did arts and crafts and went to the library. The report also found that children in Head Start made significant academic progress during the year on skills like identifying numbers and shapes.

The second of the studies, known as the Head Start Impact Study, is the latest in a series of reports that has looked at the academic, social-emotional and health outcomes for Head Start students over time. Previously, the study had found that gains made in preschool for children enrolled in Head Start tapered off in first grade. The latest report shows that nearly all the health benefits and academic and social emotional gains were gone by third grade. There were also some negative outcomes, including a greater likelihood of being held back.

But parenting skills continued to be better for Head Start families, and in some cases social skills and reading ability were somewhat higher for Head Start children in third grade.

“One of the strengths of the Head Start program is the parent involvement and parent engagement,” said Linda Smith, ACF deputy assistant secretary for early childhood development, in a phone interview. “And it is borne out in the study.”

The practice of early childhood home visits by non-school staff seems to be growing. Education Week posted a useful article on the practice, Home Visits Help New Families; Support School Readiness.

Here’s how it begins:

Kindergartners across the country are kicking off their official schooling careers over the next several weeks (some are already underway), but up to 45 percent of them won’t be “ready to learn,” under a definition that includes certain cognitive skills, but also physical and mental health, emotional well-being, and the ability to relate to others.

Most of the children who fall short of that definition of school readiness come from low-income communities in households often headed by a single mother.

That sobering reminder about the gaps that exist even as children are just embarking on their schooling comes from the Pew Center on the States and its campaign for state governments to invest more resources into voluntary home visiting programs for expectant and new families. There are scores of home visiting programs designed to address a slew of health, social, and educational challenges that manifest in the earliest stages of a child’s life (even in utero). These programs pair professionals such as nurses or social workers with parents who volunteer to receive support and information about good parenting that can start as early as pregnancy and reach into a child’s fifth year of life.

Parent Involvement One of the Most Enduring Benefits of the Head Start Program is the headline of a post that begins:

Recent research released by Alexander Gelber and Adam Isen at the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania suggests that increased parent involvement in a child’s life is one of the most enduring benefits of the Head Start Program.

The article also contains a link to what seems to be a relatively useful guide for parent involvement in Head Start programs.

Study: Head Start Programs May Increase Parents’ Involvement is a short blog post at Education Week about a recent….study.

Parents, teachers tout classroom councils to boost engagement is an article about how a Chicago Head Start center is engaging parents. The exact model is probably not practical in many or most classrooms, but it’s just another way of looking at parents as “co-educators.”

The National Center On Parent, Family and Community Engagement is connected to Head Start. Here is how the website describes its purpose:

The National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement will identify, develop and disseminate evidence-based best practices associated with the development of young children and the strengthening of families and communities. The Center will create culturally and linguistically relevant training and tools for implementing comprehensive, systemic, and integrated approaches to parent, family and community engagement in Head Start and Early Head Start.

It’s filled with useful resources, including multimedia.

New study shows parent involvement leads to better classroom attention is the title of an MSNBC article about research on pre-schoolers and their families.

Here’s an excerpt:

A new study by cognitive neuroscientist Helen Neville from the University of Oregon, Eugene indicates that parental involvement may be a large factor in preschoolers ability to retain attention in the classroom. The study also showed that a brief training program on attention aimed at 3- to 5-year-olds and their families could help boost brain activity and narrow the academic achievement gap between low- and high-income students.

HIPPY stands for Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters, and you can read more about its home visiting program here.

Head Start recently published quite a compilation of recent research related to parent involvement and pre-school youth.

is from The Cultural Orientation Resource Center:

The HHS Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Head Start (OHS) has a number of resources that support refugee families. The handbook, Raising Young Children in a New Country: Supporting Early Learning and Healthy Development, focuses on refugee families and the parenting of children from the prenatal period through age 5. Throughout handbook are easy-to-follow illustrations that provide families with information about healthy development, early learning and school readiness, and family engagement in early care. An adaptation of the Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services (BRYCS) publication, Raising Children in a New Country: An Illustrated Handbook, handbook was authored by BRYCS in collaboration with the National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness (NCCLR). Spanish and Arabic translations are expected to be completed during September 2013.

NHSA Dialog, which is published by the National Head Start Association and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, have recently published an issue entirely devoted to Parent Involvement and Engagement In Head Start.

Bridging Worlds: Family Engagement in the Transition to Kindergarten is a useful “case study” from The Harvard Family Research Project.

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