ENGAGE! in Creating Family Friendly Schools

How family friendly is your school? How do you know? Sometimes it’s easy to overlook things that could be a barrier to family engagement because after you see something day after day it tends to becomes invisible to you! I think it’s a lot like when you get a crack in your kitchen cabinet. At first you worry about it, you try to put a plant in front of it to cover it up or drape a tea towel over it to keep it hidden. But time goes by and soon you forget it’s there. You are shocked when someone comes over to you house and says, “Hey! There’s a crack in your cabinet!”

Have you ever done an audit of your school facilities to see if there are any unintentional barriers? How have you engaged families in that process? And then, once you identify the barriers, what’s your process for removing them? Do you engage families in that process?

Here are 10 more ideas on how to use the Assessment Guide:

  • To assess current family involvement practices at the school
  • To develop ideas for involvement practices and activities
  • To inform the development of a school improvement plan
  • To monitor progress in reaching school improvement goals
  • To design professional development for staff
  • To discuss the Standards at PTA and faculty meetings
  • To conduct a school walk-through looking for evidence of implementation for each Standard
  • To create a survey for parents and staff
  • To guide the development of school-based parent involvement policies and compacts
  • To design research and evaluation studies and instruments

For more information, check out the PTA National Standards for Family School Partnerships at www.pta.org/nationalstandards.

Beyond the Bake Sale by Anne Henderson and Karen Mapp also contains a checklist to help you assess your school. The checklist is a good start to identify some barriers and begin conversations about how to break them down. The PTA National Standards for Family School Partnerships Assessment Guide offers a much more intensive assessment tool that includes a rubric to see if your school is emerging, progressing, or excelling each of the six National Standards for Family School Partnerships. PTAs can also enroll in the School of Excellence program to engage families in the process of identifying barriers and then developing an action team to break them down!

ENGAGE! is a weekly column on Family Engagement written by Sherri Wilson, Senior Manager of Family and Community Engagement at the National PTA. Sherri is the former Director of the Alabama Parent Information and Resource Center and is currently responsible for developing and implementing programs related to family and community engagement at the National PTA.



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