A PUBLICATION OF THE CHILDREN'S LEARNING INSTITUTE
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Resources for School-Family Partnerships: the Fort Bend Pre-K Family Engagement Project

Education experts agree that, given the bonds between parents and children and the importance of families in children’s lives, family engagement is an important component to ensuring children’s educational growth. Yet teachers sometimes need additional training and resources to institute high quality family engagement programs, and communications with families often focus on logistical issues (e.g., when assignments are due) or behavioral problems, which can drown out more positive, goal-oriented communication. High quality family engagement, however, strives to build a partnership between educators and families that builds trust early, celebrates student accomplishments, and, most importantly, creates a culture of active collaboration when learning delays or other concerns arise. 

Prekindergarten represents a critical period for family engagement. It is a time of rapid growth in children’s language, literacy, and social emotional development, during which home-based support is particularly effective in advancing foundational skills necessary for success in school. Partnering with families during the prekindergarten years can also set a high standard of participation for parents and help establish a pattern of engagement that continues as their children progress through early elementary. 

This spring, CLI piloted new family engagement resources and individualized coaching for teachers with four Fort Bend County school districts. Nearly 100 preschool teachers received training and 50 received individualized coaching. The focus for the project was leveraging existing touchpoints between families and teachers (e.g., parent-teacher conferences, open house, and homework) to be more effective conduits for supporting children’s development and establishing school-family partnerships. The resources developed are designed to achieve four specific outcomes:

  1. Supporting teachers in being more effective family partners (e.g., positive communication techniques, managing bias)
  2. Encouraging play-based learning and responsive interactions at home (i.e., assigning developmentally appropriate homework that targets key skills while also building relationships between family members)
  3. Promoting two-way conversations about children’s development (e.g., using child progress monitoring data and family observation to exchange meaningful information about children’s development in solution-oriented ways)
  4. Hosting family nights that promote specific areas of skill development (i.e., transforming traditional “open house” nights into additional opportunities for supporting parents as teachers)

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The project resulted in a web-based teacher toolkit that houses numerous free resources. The toolkit is available on CLI Engage, our digital platform. CLI will be adding more resources to this toolkit throughout the summer, including online courses (known as professional learning sessions) for each of the four topics above.

To learn more about the project and the free resources available, you can review our recorded webinar.

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Thank you to all Fort Bend teachers who completed the pilot!

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