Family Engagement - Introduction

WHY FAMILY ENGAGEMENT MATTERS

Well-informed, engaged parents make a difference for student success in school and beyond. A home environment that encourages learning is a bigger factor in student achievement than a parent's income, education level or cultural background.

Whether it's reading together, monitoring homework at the kitchen table, talking to teachers about a child's progress, joining PTA or taking an active part in school governance and decision-making, parent involvement is vital to student achievement.

Over 30 years of research indicates how and why family engagement matters. It tells us that students with involved parents are more likely to:

  • Attend school regularly
  • Perform better in school
  • Earn higher grades
  • Pass their classes
  • Develop better social skills
  • Go on to post-secondary education

As important stakeholders, engaged parents/guardians take part in all aspects of their child's education and development from birth to adulthood.

This successful strategy is based on a shared understanding in a school community that parents are a child's first teachers and key resources in his/her education and growth.

Recent changes in how California schools are funded reinforce this strategy. This means that family engagement in schools is more important than ever.

With the introduction of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), school districts across the state are required to involve parents in making important decisions about their schools to support student success.

This includes active participation by parents in developing and evaluating a Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) for their school district to improve schools.

When families, schools and communities work effectively together as partners, family engagement is a powerful strategy that boosts student achievement and better prepares our children to lead healthy, happy and productive lives.

FAMILY ENGAGEMENT IN SCHOOLS – PTA'S ROLE

Connecting families and schools for student success is the core purpose and value of PTA.

As the nation's largest volunteer and parent-based organization, PTA has focused on improving the lives of children and youth with stronger family-school partnerships since 1897.

This experience as a grassroots organization helps local PTAs build a culture of inclusion on their school campus where parents and family members feel welcomed, respected and appreciated.

Offering opportunities for families to take an active part in a student's school life is what PTAs do best.

By organizing activities such as parent education forums, family reading nights, anti-bullying campaigns, health fairs, walk-a-thons and college and career readiness workshops, PTAs provide programs that support student learning and achievement.

As the hub of their school community, PTAs bring parents, teachers and communities together to share information and devise ways to best support student learning. Along with California State PTA and National PTA, they work to improve student outcomes and school performance from pre-school to high school for every child to achieve their potential.

BUILD FAMILY ENGAGEMENT – PTA'S SCHOOL SMARTS PROGRAM

California State PTA offers a turnkey program, the School Smarts Parent Engagement Program, for school districts and sites to build authentic family engagement on their campuses.

School Smarts is an award-winning program that helps parents to help their children succeed in school.

It includes a seven-session parent academy with a comprehensive curriculum to foster parent engagement in education. It encourages parents to promote a complete, high-quality education that includes the arts.

To reach parents in diverse communities across the state, the School Smarts Parent Engagement Program is offered in a number of home languages for parents including English, Spanish, Arabic and Traditional Chinese as well as Tagalog and Vietnamese.

As a research-based program, the School Smarts Parent Engagement Program was developed with the generous support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and is successful in growing parent engagement to support student success today for tomorrow's world.

FAMILY ENGAGEMENT COMMISSION – OVERVIEW

California State PTA's Family Engagement Commission provides information and tools to build authentic family engagement to support student success. It focuses on empowering parents/guardians and family caregivers as advocates for the education, health and well-being of all children.

To support the efforts of PTAs in growing family engagement in their school community, the commission designs and develops a range of resources, materials and training to raise awareness about the importance of:

  • Parent involvement and family engagement in schools
  • Childhood development stages
  • Parent Education
  • PTA's allied agencies and organizations that focus on family engagement

Its primary purpose is to help parents enhance their skills and understanding of how to support their child's education and social development at each stage of growth.