Principles of effective parent engagement in early childhood education

(Photo: Siewerin)

The engaging diverse families project of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) identified principles of family engagement in early childhood education, collected case studies of good practice and developed resources to help programs more effectively engage families in children’s early learning.

The six principles of effective parent engagement they identify for early childhood education service are:

  1. Programs invite families to participate in decision making and goal setting for their child. Programs invite families to actively take part in making decisions concerning their children’s education. Teachers and families jointly set goals for children’s education and learning both at home and at school.
  2. Teachers and programs engage families in two-way communication. Strategies allow for both school- and family-initiated communication that is timely and continuous. Conversations focus on a child’s educational experience as well as the larger program. Communication takes multiple forms and reflects each family’s language preference.
  3. Programs and teachers engage families in ways that are truly reciprocal. Programs and families benefit from shared resources and information. Programs invite families to share their unique knowledge and skills and encourage active participation in the life of the school. Teachers seek information about children’s lives, families, and communities and integrate this information into their curriculum and teaching practices.
  4. Programs provide learning activities for the home and in the community. Programs use learning activities at home and in the community to enhance each child’s early learning and encourage and support families’ efforts to create a learning environment beyond the program.
  5. Programs invite families to participate in program-level decisions and wider advocacy efforts. Programs invite families to actively participate in making decisions about the program itself. Programs also invite families to advocate for early childhood education in the wider community.
  6. Programs implement a comprehensive program-level system of family engagement. Programs institutionalize family engagement policies and practices and ensure that  teachers, administrators, and other staff receive the supports they need to fully engage families.

The focus is essentially on engaging families in the priorities of early childhood centre. While they emphasise the two-way nature of engagement, there is much less emphasis on how early childhood centre’s can contribute to the proprieties of local communities.

By way of contrast,  when the Coalition for Community Schools identified six keys to community engagement to help create the conditions for learning, they argued that schools should be proactive in learning about the community surround the school and become actively outside the school. Rather than just expecting the community to help meet the school’s priorities; schools should think about how they can contribute to what the local community wants. Schools can identify community resources that could help the school AND school resources that could be useful to the community.

Despite this limitation, the principles are useful and they have many other helpful resources on family engagement.

If you liked this post please follow my blog, and you might like to look at:

  1. Making parents feel welcome in schools
  2. 6 keys to community engagement in schools
  3. Community engagement in turning around schools
  4. Jihad Dib on school transformation (TEDx talk)
  5. A few reflections after 10 years of primary school
  6. What works in connecting families, communities and schools?

If you find any problems with the blog, (e.g., broken links or typos) I’d love to hear about them. You can either add a comment below or contact me via the Contact page.

About Graeme Stuart

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

1 Response to Principles of effective parent engagement in early childhood education

  1. Karthik says:

    “A healthy community needs a healthy school, but a healthy school also needs a healthy community,”. Parent’s intention should move from participation to involvement to “true” engagement, where parents not only generate ideas but run programs and influence community action.


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