Tools for Success: Family Engagement in Schools

By Hannah Sablan, PULSE Volunteer

ECHO Family Engagement events are an opportunity for our schools to reach out to the parents of our students and encourage family time. It is a chance for the schools to foster relationships with the parents and students in a collaborative effort. In addition to this, building relationships between other families is also an objective. Ultimately we want these events to create a more inclusive school community. Family Engagement events give parents insight into their child’s school life and encourage opportunities for education in their homes.

Michelle Sherman, ECHO’s Family Advocate, coordinates many of the events at St. Benedict the Moor , Immaculate Conception , and Mother Brunner . They are held anywhere from once a month to a few times a quarter. All parents and students are encouraged to attend, but there are barriers such as transportation and work hours that still might affect attendance. On average, attendance at our Family Engagement events range from around seventy to eighty people.

The night generally starts off with a great dinner provided by our community partner House of Bread. Through our partnership with them, they not only offer dinner, but also food bags for families who need a little more assistance with attaining food at home. Dinner is then followed by a presentation wherein parents will listen to a speaker and their children are entertained with a variety of activities. During recent events, there have been presentations on “The Importance of Attendance,” “Third Grade Reading Promise,” “Reading in a Technological Age,” and “Understanding Your Child’s Learning Style.” Parents receive various materials to assist with implementing what they learn into their homes.

In feedback surveys given out to all the parents who attend the events, a majority of the responses stated that “they feel more like a part of the school” and “they learned something new that they will utilize on their own.” Some also expressed how “It was greatly appreciated that I didn’t have to go home and cook them dinner. Very informational of things I can do to help my children at home.” Through the surveys, parents are able to actively voice their interest or critiques on how the event was. Over the years, we have noted an increase of interest and participation from the parents and we continuously look forward to engaging with our families through these events.

Edited by Ben Swick and Barb Miller.

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