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.

My Best Posts On Building Parent Engagement In Schools — 2011 (So Far)

I usually just do a year-end list on parent engagement posts and many other topics, but it gets a little crazy having to review all of my zillion posts at once. So, to make it easier for me — and perhaps, to make it a little more useful to readers — I’m going to start publishing mid-year lists, too. These won’t be ranked, unlike my year-end “The Best…” lists, and just because a post appears on a mid-year list doesn’t guarantee it will be included in an end-of-the-year one. But, at least, I won’t have to review all my year’s posts in December…

You might also be interested in:

My Best Posts On Building Parent Engagement In Schools — 2010

My Best Posts & Articles About Building Parent Engagement In Schools — 2009

In addition, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog.

Here are my choices for My Best Posts On Building Parent Engagement In Schools — 2011 (So Far):

Does The New York City Dept. Of Ed Have Any Clue What They’re Doing In Parent Engagement?

Southern States Targeting Immigrant Children

“Power of home visits and caring stressed to teachers”

“Complain at school and get a knock on the door”

What Do Students Think About Parent Involvement?

New York City Mayor Insults Parents — Again

“Involvement or Engagement?”

“Teachers’ visits to students’ homes can make big difference”

“Districts Use Web Polls to Survey Parents on Hot Topics”

Good Middle School Journal Article On Parent Involvement

Now It’s Hartford’s Turn To Show How NOT To Do Parent Involvement

Now It’s New York City’s Turn To Show Us How NOT To Do Parent Engagement

Again, Let’s Not Blame Parents

“Must-Read” Parent Tool Kit

More On Star Wars & Parent Engagement

Newark’s Outreach Effort Appears To Have Been A Sham

The Best Resources For Learning Why The Parent Trigger Isn’t Good For Parents, Kids Or Schools

Rahm Emanuel’s “Transactional” Perspective On Parent Involvement/Engagement

Why It’s So Important To Speak Positively To Parents About Their Kids

What Is With All These Proposed Punitive Measures Against Parents?

Parent Trigger Supporters Attack PTA, Compare Schools To Batterers

Feedback is always welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to explore the 700 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

The Importance Of Conversation

In my book, I emphasize the importance of two-way conversation as opposed to the typical one-way communication schools use with parents — calls home to inform parents about problems with their children, notices given to students to carry home, “connect-ed” automated phone calls.

Check-out yesterday’s Pearls Before Swine comic strip to get an idea about how NOT to define a conversation.

My Best Posts On Building Parent Engagement In Schools — 2010

I thought readers might find it useful if I brought together my choices for The Best Posts On Building Parent Engagement In Schools during this past year.

You might also be interested in last year’s edition:

My Best Posts & Articles About Building Parent Engagement In Schools — 2009

Here they are (not in any order of preference):

Teachers Have Got To Stop Blaming Parents

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

Unusual — And Important — Parent Engagement Study Validated

Obama’s Blueprint For Reform Is Very Weak On Parent Engagement/Involvement

My Book On Parent Engagement Is Now Available On The Kindle

Can The Brookings Institution Really Be That Clueless?

Parent Engagement Interview

How NOT To Communicate With Parents

Latest Assessment Results From Family Literacy Project

Will Somebody Tell Secretary Duncan’s Staff That There Are “Regular” Public Schools Engaging Parents, Too?

New Article On Making Home Visits

Wow! What A Study On School Leadership…

Parent Engagement Interview

Great Teacher Home Visit Video Clip

Private Foundations Have a Place (& Have To Be Kept In Their Place)

Why Paying Parents To Attend School Events Is Wrong

Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project

Facebook Money Used To Talk To Parents — Uh Oh

Feedback is always welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to my other blog for free.

You might also want to explore the 500 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign

The National Education Association has launched a $6 Priority Schools Campaign which includes a strong focus on parent engagement.

You can read more about it at Ed Week’s article, NEA’s Brand of School Improvement. Here’s an excerpt:

Q. The scope of these federal grants is three years, but you’ll be reporting back to the Representative Assembly next year about progress. I know you don’t want to just look at academic progress, although that’s an important indicator. Can you give us an example of what benchmarks might look like for the other areas: for instance, parental involvement and community engagement?

A. Simmons: How many parents and community members do we have on the school councils, school improvement teams, site-based teams? This is where the rubber hits the road. What’s the budget allocations for these schools? What’s the hiring practice? How will the programs actually be implemented? And above all, the authority and accountability issues come into place. Also, we’ll be looking to see how engaged parents are in their children’s education. This can be the increased number of parents at PTA, but it’s also about the real involvement of parents not just coming to the conference but actually being a part of the school, actually coming in and working in the classroom, volunteering in the school, learning how to be a better advocate for the student. The advocacy piece goes all the way to the school board.

More On “City Connects”

In June, I wrote about a Public School Insights piece on a program in Boston connecting schools and communities.

Last month, Public School Insights did a follow-up interview with people in two schools who were responsible for making the program work. It’s worth reading the whole post, but here’s one question and answer that struck me:

Public School Insights: You mentioned earlier, Kathleen, that you have been able to tailor the services that kids receive to their needs and their families’ needs. How do you get into a position where you really get to know families and interact with them? Do you find that a critical piece of the work you do?

Kathleen Carlisle: I think that is an absolutely essential piece, but it is a piece that takes a lot of time and hard work. When I walked into the office, I did not know anyone. I didn’t have a rapport with them. I did not have trust. It took years to build relationships with parents and students. And it took years of effort and results before I built those relationships to the point where they feel comfortable calling me, e-mailing me, coming to my office. So it takes time. And it takes a willingness to reach out and get to know people and understand them.

Sounds like a very realistic perspective….

Parental Academy Program In Texas

Moving English Language Learners to College- and Career-Readiness is an “issue brief” from The American Youth Policy Forum.

I was particularly intrigued by a short description of what one Texas school District does to connect to parents, and how it benefits both the parents and students. Here’s an excerpt:

Hidalgo ISD has worked hard to involve parents and other local stakeholders in the process of moving
ELLs along college and career pathways. The district offers continuing educational services to students’
parents through its Parental Academy Program. The Parental Academy offers courses ranging from
beginning English language skills to entrance into two- and four-year postsecondary programs.
Depending upon their English proficiency and educational background, parents can start anywhere
along the continuum and participate in courses that include preparation for obtaining a GED and
occupational skills training.

The Parental Academy has been credited not only with helping parents to further their education, but
also with instilling a college-going focus within students’ home lives. Through this program, parents and
students are able to experience the educational process together. Families strive for higher educational
attainment, creating a culture of academic achievement within the home.

Is anybody aware of similar efforts around the country, or world?

Student Mental Health Needs & Parent Engagement

Lisa Lambert is the director of PAL, a statewide, family-run, grassroots nonprofit organization based in Boston that promotes children’s mental health.

She writes a blog called Hold On, It’s Not Over, and last month wrote a great post titled “Family engagement is a two way street.” It describes the difference between parent involvement and parent engagement from a mental health perspective. It’s very similar to how I describe the difference in my book. Here’s an excerpt, though I’d encourage you to go to her blog and read the post in its entirety:

Family involvement is often unilateral. A program might develop family-program activities without parent input in order to help the program achieve its own goals. A school summons parents to hear their information, not to contribute their own information. A clinical team has recommendations for parents on how to improve family involvement. In each of these instances, the program assumes they are the experts about the child and the parents are the learners. There is a single approach for all families.

Family engagement, on the other hand, is a two-way street. A program works together with families to develop activities that promote goals that they share. They always seek family input when developing plans to increase family involvement. A school listens to and includes the input of families. A clinical team believes that each person, including the parent and youth, has expertise and information to share. All of them assume that parents care about their child’s progress and well being when planning interventions and treatments. They respect the differences of each family and understand that one strategy is unlikely to work for everyone.

PTA Launches “Urban Family Engagement Initiative”

Readers of this blog might already be aware of this, but I just learned that the PTA has launched what they’re calling an “Urban Family Engagement Initiative.”

Here’s how their website describes it:

“… in recognizing that different modalities of parent involvement must be developed to be inclusive of all parents, the National PTA has identified ten cities, with 5 additional cities to be selected in 2010 to develop new models of parent engagement to ensure opportunity and equity for the students in each city. The cities include: Atlanta, Albuquerque, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, New York and Philadelphia. These new strategies will be locally-driven and will mobilize volunteer leaders to address needs important to each community.”

I don’t know if any of these efforts have begun yet, or what they might look like. If you do, please leave a comment.

Family Literacy Project Update

Regular readers are probably familiar with the internationally-recognized Family Literacy Project we have at our school that provides computers and home internet access to immigrant families. They, in turn, use the technology for English language development activities. We have also worked with the Sacramento Mutual Housing Association (SMHA) to expand the project to their affordable housing developments.

SMHA has just finished their third “cohort” of adults who they trained in both technology and in using tech to learn English. The assessment results have been similar to previous cohorts — here are the before and after test results from the fourteen participants (a mix of Mien and Vietnamese immigrant parents):

English: before –73% after — 89%

Technology:before — 0% after — 76%

These participants were at a somewhat higher English level than previous ones, but began with less understanding of tech than the other cohorts.

Now, after the three month, twice a week course, each of the fourteen families will be receiving a free computer and will have access to Internet service at the SMHA housing development.

Because of funding issues, the future of both our school’s project and the SMHA expansion is, unfortunately, in doubt.

This Looks Interesting — Connecticut Parent Trust Fund

I’ve just heard about the Connecticut Parent Trust Fund. This is how it describes itself:

The Parent Trust Fund helps communities improve the health, safety, and learning of their children by providing the funding needed to train parents in civic leadership. This is the first initiative of its kind in the nation. The Fund was established through groundbreaking legislation passed by the Connecticut General Assembly in June 2001. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation seeded the Trust with $250,000. The William Casper Graustein Memorial Fund followed as the first Connecticut foundation to contribute. With five years of success behind it, the Fund has earned strong bipartisan support from the governor, the legislature, and local elected officials.

Funds are allocated to nonprofit agencies that give parents the technical and civic skills they need to take active roles in their communities’ decisions for improving the health, safety, and learning of children.

It appears like they’ve funded some good stuff, which you can read about on their webpage.

Does anybody know more they’d care to add in the comments section of this post?

A “Must-Read” For Anybody Interested In Parent Engagement In Schools

Last week, Anne Henderson, the premiere researcher and writer on parent involvement/engagement issues in the United States, testified before a U.S. Senate hearing on the the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

The Senate has just posted her testimony. It shares a great list of concrete public policy steps that can be taken to encourage parent engagement in schools.

Learning First Alliance Calls For Family Engagement Priority

Today, the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of 17 national education associations representing over ten million parents, educators and policymakers, released a statement calling for the Obama Administration to make family engagement a higher priority in its education plans.

You can read the statement at the Public School Insights blog
. Here are a couple of lines from it:

“The Elementary and Secondary Education Act should make family engagement a stronger priority.”

“The President’s blueprint for ESEA reauthorization contains only glancing references to the importance of parents and lacks a compelling vision for how the federal government can support family engagement.”