What works in connecting families, communities and schools?

Connecting education and communitiesWhat works in strengthening connections between families, communities and schools? This is the subject of a report by the J R McKenzie Trust, “Connecting Education and Communities.”

The J R McKenzie Trust, a New Zealand charitable trust, currently focuses on disdvantaged children and their families, and Maori development. One of their major emphases is building connections between families, communities and schools. In this report, they draw on international and New Zealand literature and the experience of organisation they fund, to explain what they’ve learnt about engaging parents and families in children’s education and creating links between schools, families and communities.

They start by identifying key features of successful programs based on literature:

  1. Taking a targeted approach
  2. Taking a strengths-based approach
  3. Valuing culture
  4. Offering formal parenting support
  5. Offering informal parenting support
  6. Encouraging parental “engagement”, not just “involvement”
  7. Enabling two-way communication and support
  8. Involving whanau [extended family]
  9. Taking a whole-of-school approach
  10. Clearly stating goals and focussing on learning
  11. Collaborating with the wider community
  12. Providing adequate resourcing and regular review
  13. Taking time to develop strong. (pp. 9-10)

The go on to suggest that the projects they have funded through their Connecting Education and Communities program have worked best when they have:

  1. Are based on respect and reciprocity – add to the ways in which families are already engaged in the children’s learning
  2. Are from the grass roots – we need to avoid “one size fits all” thinking
  3. Retain a clear focus on learning and achievement – it has to be more than involving parents in fundraising
  4. Are adequately resourced – teachers already have a lot to do, they need support (e.g., a dedicated community liaison coordinator)
  5. Are two-directional – allow families to both give and receive support, don’t just expect parent to engage in initiatives of the school
  6. Take time to build trust – share personal experience, take time to get to know families and be consistently supportive
  7. Put fun into learning – try fun events for the whole family. (p. 12)

The report also discusses why it is important to connect schools, families and communities (pp. 7-8), the impact of the Connecting Education and Communities program (p. 11) and some suggestions for the next steps (p. 13).

Please don’t reference me, but go to the original source:

JR McKenzie Trust. (2014). Connecting education and communities: What we are learning. Wellington: JR McKenzie Trust. Available from http://www.cec.net.nz/uploads/3/1/6/3/31638815/cec_what_we_are_learning_2015.pdf

This post came from a project I’m working on supporting nine children and parenting support programs in regional and rural NSW to enhance their capacity to implement evidence-based programs and practice. The project was funded by the Department funded by the Department of Social Services through the Children and Families Expert Panel. You can see other posts relating to this work at https://sustainingcommunity.wordpress.com/resources-for-students/expert-panel-caps/.

If you liked this post please follow my blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to look at:

  1. What is the Strengths Perspective?
  2. Some good articles/links – engaging ‘hard to reach’ families
  3. Playgroups as a foundation for working with hard to reach families
  4. Building relationships
  5. Making parents feel welcome in schools
  6. A few reflections after 10 years of primary school

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), environmentalist, Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace & sustainability.
This entry was posted in Families & parenting, Schools and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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