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Dear FINE Member,
As another school year begins, this month’s newsletter brings you valuable back-to-school news and resources.
The start of the school year provides families and schools with renewed opportunities to partner in support of children, and our back-to-school resources reflect the variety of ways in which schools are reaching out to families. Other resources this month address national research on the link between child well-being and family involvement, and look at the benefits of out-of-school time and community involvement for children’s academic success.
New From HFRP
HFRP is seeking a Project Manager to lead and manage our family involvement team. In this position, you will work directly with the federally financed Parental Information and Resource Centers (PIRCs), which are building a coordinated national structure for parental involvement in education, and with the HFRP-led Family Involvement Network of Educators (FINE), a national network of practitioners in school and after school programs. You will report directly to the director of HFRP and collaborate with team members as well as with the cross-project complementary learning team, a group focused on researching, strategizing, and disseminating information about nonschool learning supports and policies, including after school programs.
This new HFRP paper distills insights and lessons learned from our fall 2007 professional development institute, Closing the Achievement Gap: Linking Families, Schools, and Communities Through Complementary Learning. Highlighting the insights of presenters, participants, and representatives from four case study communities, the paper shares emerging strategies for creating complementary learning—including working with families—and evolving ideas about next steps for the field.
Back-to-School News and Resources
A recent issue of PTA Parent focuses on parent–teacher communication as one form of parent involvement. The magazine shares tips from University of Florida professor Suzanne Smith on how parents can better communicate with teachers.
Teacher Magazine recently posted a two-part column entitled “Teaching Secrets: The First Days of School,” by Jane Fung, a veteran kindergarten teacher from Los Angeles. In part two, Fung shares her tips for how teachers can establish strong channels of communication with families.
A recent article in Teacher Magazine featured Damon Hunter, principal of Washington State’s Saghalie Middle School. In the hopes of connecting with parents to get them involved in their children’s education, Hunter has tried to visit the homes of all 600 of his school’s students before the beginning of the school year.
The website USA.gov contains recently updated resources for students, parents, and educators about returning to school in the fall. Resources for parents include the booklet, “Helping Your Child Succeed in School.”
Other News and Articles
A recent report from the National Center for Educational Statistics presents data on parents’ and families’ involvement in their children’s education throughout the country. The report, First Look, focuses on a range of topics, including factors affecting parent and family participation in school, parent satisfaction with school, and parents’ communication with other parents.
A second report from NCES describes how children in the school year 2006–2007 met standards for school readiness. The report includes data on parental plans for kindergarten enrollment and parents' beliefs about what they think they should do to prepare their children for school.
Australia’s Friendly Schools Program, which works to maximize family involvement, also reduces bullying within the school setting. A 3-year research project, Friendly Schools Friendly Families (FSFF), found, among other outcomes, a significant reduction in bullying behavior among children who received the program compared to those who did not receive the program.
The most recent SEDL Letter emphasizes the importance of family and community involvement in student success. The SEDL Letter presents recent research on parent involvement and after school, including a 2008 HFRP after school brief. The letter also spotlights the U.S. Department of Education’s Parental Information and Resource Center (PIRC) program and examples of successful family–community–school partnerships in the field.
This fact sheet from Child Trends presents findings from an analysis of data from the 2003 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH). Child Trends analyzed parent reports of three markers of a parent–child relationship: parent-child closeness, the degree to which parents share ideas and talk about issues that matter with their children, and parents’ acquaintance with their children’s friends. Findings suggest that, for most youth, high parental involvement and positive parent–child interactions last into the teenage years.
A second fact sheet, also from Child Trends, shares findings from an analysis of NSCH data to investigate linkages among parent involvement, childhood TV viewing, and child behavior problems. Findings suggest that low levels of parent involvement and frequent TV watching may be linked to child behavior problems.
A recent poll by Pre-K Now found that its respondents supported greater federal investments in state prekindergarten programs and that they recognized the lasting benefits of pre-K education. In particular, respondents ranked family involvement in pre-K programs as the most important factor they would consider in deciding whether or not a pre-K program is high quality.
A recent brief released by the Education Commission of the States addresses parent involvement in the high school years. The brief reviews research on the positive impact of parental involvement in high school and reviews state and local policies and practices that reflect a commitment to parent involvement. Among the research cited in the brief are an HFRP study of state teacher certification requirements and an HFRP research digest on parent involvement in adolescence.
Awards and Events
The Family, School, Community Partnerships Special Interest Group (SIG) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) has announced a call for nominations for the outstanding dissertation award to be presented by the SIG at AERA's 2009 Annual Meeting in San Diego. The award is open to anyone whose dissertation topic is centrally related to the SIG mission of promoting the study and dissemination of research on school, family, and community connections that support children's learning and development. Nomination deadline is October 1, 2008.
The National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) at Johns Hopkins University will conduct its annual Leadership Development Conference on school, family, and community partnerships on November 4–5, 2008. The conference brings together leaders from schools, districts, states, and organizations that are developing research-based programs of family and community involvement linked to school improvement goals for student success. Registration deadline is October 10, 2008.
The Center for Early Childhood Leadership will host a management training institute on October 24–25, 2008, at the McCormick Tribune Center for Early Childhood Leadership's training facility on NLU's Wheeling, Illinois, campus. The institute is meant for center administrators, directors, assistant directors, or owners of early care and education programs who would like to examine their center's policies and practices through a "family-friendly" lens. Registration deadline is October 6, 2008.
The 43rd Annual National Community Education Association Conference will be held on November 5-8, 2008 in Dallas, Texas. With the theme “Blazing New Trails,” the conference will help community educators working with those in other fields create innovative learning strategies related to the needs and resources of this new century.
In his new book, Steve Constantino addresses the cultural challenges schools sometimes face when trying to promote family involvement. The book offers strategies and exercises meant to help schools build a strong cultural foundation and build relationships that lead to family engagement.
If you experience a problem reading this newsletter or have questions and comments concerning our work, we would love to hear from you. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The FINE Team at Harvard Family Research Project