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Dear FINE Members,

In recent months, the issue of inequality has raced to the top of public conversations about American society and its future. Tackling inequality of educational opportunity means that we must take action on multiple learning spaces, in and out of school. Learning happens not only in school but in the home, afterschool and summer learning programs, and libraries and museums. In this issue of the FINE Newsletter, we explore how communities are breaking the mold and tackling the opportunity gap by designing innovative spaces, forging strategic partnerships, and engaging children and families in meaningful learning experiences both on- and offline. This special issue of the FINE Newsletter launches a yearlong strand of work that will look at what we call, “anywhere, anytime learning.”

Our focus on anywhere, anytime learning is driven by research that shows that children spend only 20 percent of their waking time annually in formal classroom education, leaving 80 percent of their time for exploring and enhancing their learning interests in nonschool settings. Children and youth thrive when, in conjunction with their school experiences, they engage in interest-driven learning in summer and afterschool programs and in the home, early childhood centers, libraries, and museums, to name just a few examples. Today, digital media have added a new dimension to learning opportunities. Children and youth can access information and connect with others instantly, anywhere and at any time.

In this issue, M. Elena Lopez and Margaret Caspe take us on a deep dive into the research base for anywhere, anytime and challenge us to broaden our notion of family engagement and of learning beyond school. First, we join Cool Culture for a tour of New York City’s cultural institutions and learn how they are providing income-eligible families with opportunities for shared inquiry and discovery. Next, we go down to Maryland and hear from Nathan Driskell about how the Maryland Library Partnerships program is linking families to essential resources and supports to help them promote their children’s literacy. We then sit down with the research-practice partners Susan Leger Ferraro and Fran Hurley for an exciting Q & A about an innovative museum and play space, Imajine That. We end our adventure in our own backyard and join Meghan White in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In a short video clip, she discusses the importance of providing families with information about quality afterschool programming as they navigate the transition to kindergarten.


Commentary

Family Engagement in Anywhere, Anytime Learning cover image: Harvard Family Research Project

Family Engagement in Anywhere, Anytime Learning
Explore how researchers and practitioners are helping to close the opportunity gap by creating innovative spaces, developing strategic collaborations to ensure children’s success, and engaging families and children as partners in meaningful learning experiences, both in and out of school.


Voices From the Field


Cool Culture logo

Learning Together—Exploring a Nonprofit-Museum-Preschool-Family Partnership Model
An organization in New York City is providing rich anywhere, anytime learning opportunities for young children from low-income households. Learn how the Literacy Through Culture program hopes to increase families’ enthusiasm and appreciation for learning in a variety of contexts and build strong parent–child interactions around fun learning activities.

Photo of Nathan Driskell Libraries Helping to Close the Opportunity Gap: Maryland Library Partnership
Through innovative and engaging family activities, the Maryland Library Partnership is playing a crucial community role by promoting learning anywhere, anytime and reaching out to parents to help them with their children’s learning, improve literacy, and close the vocabulary gap between low-income learners and their peers.


Imajine That logo

Q & A With Susan Leger Ferraro and Frances Hurley: Learning Through Technology-Infused Play
Creative anywhere, anytime learning experiences take center stage at Imajine That Museum and Educational Play Space, where families bring their children to play, socialize, and learn together as a family. Read this exciting Q and A with Susan Leger Ferraro and Fran Hurley, about how Imajine That provides an array of innovative learning opportunities to enthusiastic families.
Photo of Christine Patton

The Transition to Afterschool: One City’s Approach to Connecting Young Children and Their Families to Learning and Enrichment Opportunities
What steps can programs take to help families successfully transition to school and afterschool? How can families make informed choices about afterschool opportunities? What information do families need in this process? This video demonstrates how Cambridge, Massachusetts, is addressing these and related questions to help connect families to afterschool learning and enrichment opportunities prior to school entry.


Family Involvement News

Harvard Family Research Project's Family Engagement News

June 2014 News
Find out in these resources what an online survey reveals about parent involvement in classrooms, why New York Schools chancellor Carmen Farina plans to encourage more student-led parent-teacher conferences, and how a Denver public-school teacher uses text messaging to reach out to parents during the school day. Also learn how some out-of-school time (OST) programs are making a shift from a “program-centered” to a “learning-centered” approach to family engagement in OST learning, and much more!


Contact Us

We thank you as always, and invite you to pass on this issue to interested friends and colleagues. We also hope you’ll send us any comments you might have! Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to join the conversation and stay informed!

Best wishes,

Harvard Family Research Project FINE Team

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