Family Engagement Month

The Effects of Poverty on Children’s Ability to be Independent Thinkers

Adapted from the book: Family Engagement and Nurturing Children to be Independent Thinkers: an essential handbook for school administrators and teaching professionals

Research demonstrates that family engagement is a dynamic, interactive process that provides a pathway to student success.  Family engagement is a shared responsibility among families, community organizations and schools.  Families are core in the learning process of children and it takes commitment to actions of families and schools working together to support student success.  It is through this shared responsibility that schools reach out to engage families in meaningful ways to actively support their child’s learning and development.  Even though students may come from poverty, they can still be led in the right direction to becoming independent thinkers.

            Here are some ideas to encourage parents from poverty to become engaged in their child’s learning:

  • When planning programs at school for parents to attend, use the “museum format” rather than large group settings.  This encourages families to come out to the school and allows them to come and go to match their busy schedules.  This format has a welcoming atmosphere that is nonthreatening and gives families the freedom to move around to areas that interest them.
  • Use videos that are less than fifteen minutes in length to inform parents about important and helpful information they can use when helping their child at home.
  • Print materials should include pictures, graphics or drawings to help with understanding the message.   This will be less intimidating to parents who have difficulty reading.  Keep the information short, simple and to the point.  Avoid lengthy, text-based informational school flyers and papers because parents have limited time to read and might think the information is not related to their child.
  • Offer coffee as a welcoming gesture to reach families from home of poverty; coffee is frequently perceived as a sign of welcome.
  • Think about the needs of the whole family and allow children to come with their parents.  School children can help their parents to navigate the school building and help them to feel more comfortable.

It is important to take into consideration the various reasons for the lack of parental involvement and to be sensitive to the different needs that children have in their homes that are out of our control as educators.  Being knowledgeable of the research on children in poverty can make an impact on educational decisions that will affect student success and future goals.

For more innovative outreach ideas, register for the 2018 National Family Engagement Summit.

Celebrating Family Engagement Month

The month of November provides a wonderful opportunity for schools and districts around the nation to recognize and honor the significant role of families who collaborate as equal partners in their child’s education. 

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Family Engagement Month is a time to celebrate the accomplishments of successful family and school partnerships.  It is also a time to set ambitious goals to outreach effectively to more diverse families.  Data from the Census Bureau indicates that one out of five students speak a language other than English at home.  The changing demographics that we see in our schools emphasize the critical need for strong family and school partnerships.   Family Engagement Month provides schools, districts, and states the opportunity to share best practices to support effective family engagement and strategic outreach. 

In many states, the Governor will sign a proclamation in honor of Family Engagement Month to recognize the importance of these essential partnerships.  In addition to these proclamations, some states have created a variety of resources to assist schools and districts with activities to highlight and recognize families this month.  The Florida Department of Education - Office of Family Engagement has some of the best resources in the nation to celebrate Family Engagement Month.   These resources consist of a family engagement toolkit, a pledge for parents in different languages, flyers, logos, social media post templates, and a family engagement video contest. (Click here to view these resources)  These outstanding resources are extremely beneficial for schools around the nation seeking innovative ideas and activities to celebrate Family Engagement Month. 

If you are interested in learning about more creative ideas and strategies to support collaborative family and school partnerships, be sure to attend the 2018 National Family Engagement Summit ( and learn revolutionary ideas from Florida’s fourth largest school district, Orange County Public Schools @OCPSnews.