Family engagement is a key component in both school improvement and student success. Research shows that when families engage in their child’s learning, students demonstrate better grades, test scores, attendance, and behavior.
The problem that many schools face is that some traditional family engagement practices aren’t as effective. Modern-day families seem to be busier and are interacting via digital communication more than ever before.
On top of it all, the COVID-19 pandemic is making matters even more complicated. Because of it, traditional events (i.e. home visits, back-to-school nights, parent-teacher conferences, and other similar events) haven’t been taking place – at least in-person.
Effectively communicating with families and keeping even the busiest connected to their child’s learning is key to engaging today’s families. This is easier than it sounds, especially when schools and districts utilize platforms that keep all communication in one place for families. A school communication platform like Livingtree Engage connects families to their child’s teacher, school, and district, ensures families receive school communications in their preferred language, and helps administrators oversee communication activity and data at every level.
By implementing the right platform, schools can actually improve multiple areas of family engagement.
Bonus info: Get the Family Engagement Technology guide for the 4 capabilities your engagement platform must have and the best practices for school districts to implement a unified solution.
The Center for Family Engagement and the Global Family Research Project defined five powerful areas for engagement based on research and outlined Five Ways Families, Teachers, Schools and Communities Can Work Together to Support Children’s Learning and School Success. Below, we cover how a school or district-wide communication platform like Livingtree Engage can improve those 5 areas:
1. Ensure Children Attend School Regularly
“Children can’t make academic progress if they aren’t in school—especially if they miss several days over the course of the school year.”
To ensure children attend school, families have to understand what their child is learning and why it is important. If families don’t value school attendance, it’s often because the importance hasn’t been clearly or consistently demonstrated in school-home communications. Here’s how educators and schools can use Livingtree Engage to improve attendance:
• Educators can share classroom-wide what students will be learning, or including information about upcoming assignments, projects, or tests. They can also attach files, photos, or videos to provide families with additional content.
• Educators can post photos and videos from the classroom to show what students are learning and working on.
• Direct one-to-one messaging allows educators to have personal conversations with families. This opens further opportunities to discuss learning, achievements, challenges, or address a child’s absence from class.
• Livingtree’s Attendance Alerts provide families with a notification about a child’s absence. This not only keeps families up to date but helps build a partnership with families in reducing absenteeism.
2. Share Information About Student Progress
“Use multiple ways to communicate how children are doing—conferences, report cards, standardized tests, and more.”
Sharing student progress can keep families up to date and avoid any surprises. This consistent school to home communication allows parents to take action before it’s too late. Here’s how Livingtree Engage makes it easy to share student progress:
• Educators can post to families classroom-wide about progress with projects and tests, as well as expectations and reminders about where students should be.
• Educators can utilize direct messaging to discuss a specific student’s progress.
• Setting important due-dates and scheduling parent-teacher conferences can be done through the calendar.
3. Reinforce Shared Learning
“Families play a key role in supporting learning in and out of school. For example, showing children how science, math, engineering, and technology are part of our daily lives and talking about careers in these areas can also motivate children to prepare for the future.”
There are a number of ways that families can help reinforce learning outside of school. With clear instructions and effective school communication, those opportunities can have a positive impact on student learning. Here’s how Livingtree Engage can be utilized to reinforce shared learning:
• Educators can share activities and projects for families to complete at home.
• Educators can post questions for families to ask at home to reinforce learning for that day or week, effectively replacing “what did you do in school today?”
• Educators can upload videos, or share video links for families to share with their child.
4. Use Digital Media In Positive And Safe Ways
“Apps and other online communication tools can be a way to build relationships with teachers too! Schools can also educate students and their families on the use of social media, how to prevent or report bullying, and how to develop media literacy skills that will help them throughout life.”
An open, safe, two-way line of communication between school and home can lead to trusting relationships between teachers and families. Here are some other ways Livingtree promotes positive and safe use of digital media:
• Livingtree is private and secure. It opens a safe space for families to use technology in a meaningful way.
• Livingtree feels like a private social media network, so it’s extremely easy to use, even for families who have no prior use in technology.
• Keeping in close contact with families on Livingtree can help build trust and relationships.
• Schools can use Livingtree to open up the conversation at the start of the school year about digital citizenship rules.
• Schools that use Livingtree with students in older grades as a collaborative classroom tool can provide a great introduction to digital citizenship
5. Provide Support During Transitions to New Schools and Classrooms
“Children and youth benefit from support from their families, schools and communities when they are adjusting to a new school, meeting a new teacher or learning with new peers. Whether children are beginning kindergarten, entering ninth grade, moving to a new neighborhood, or starting a new after school program, transitions can be a time of stress and uncertainty.”
Making it easier for families to support their child during a time of transition can greatly benefit students. When families can connect to their school and teachers without having to worry about signing up or registering for new apps and school communication programs, it enables families to provide the support that their child needs. Here’s how Livingtree Engage can be utilized to support families:
• District-wide implementations of Livingtree provide families a consistent form of communication with their child’s teacher and school that they can rely on. Their information is automatically updated through syncs with the district SIS system.
• Staff members can use Livingtree to provide warm and welcoming messages for new families
Unifying your school-home communication with the right platform can certainly hit all five areas. And by making improvements in those five areas, schools can expect to see improvements in engagement as well.
What capabilities should your school or district’s communication platform have to garner family engagement?