Last week, National PTA announced the launch of the Center for Family Engagement, a new initiative to embed transformative family engagement practices, programs and policies across the educational system.
“We know families are essential to children’s success and school improvement efforts. However, traditional family engagement policies and practices do not always meet the needs of each and every family, nor empower them as partners in their child’s success,” said Leslie Boggs, President-Elect of National PTA. “As the needs of families change, we must shift the way we think about family engagement. Through our new Center for Family Engagement, we want to move the educational system to the next generation of family engagement by modeling and advocating for more transformative approaches.”
Over the next three years, the Center for Family Engagement will:
- Raise awareness about transformative family engagement by acting as a clearinghouse of innovative approaches, cutting-edge research and best practices that can be put into action.
- Influence transformative family engagement decisions and resources by contributing to a national research agenda on how parent voice shapes family engagement practices, programs and policies.
- Empower PTAs across the country to be leaders in transformative family engagement efforts through grant and recognition opportunities as well as connections to other leading family engagement organizations.
As part of the launch of the Center for Family Engagement, National PTA also announced today that Ohio PTA, New York State PTA, Minnesota PTA, Tennessee PTA, and Oklahoma PTA have been selected to receive a grant through its State PTA Family Engagement Innovation Challenge. With the grant, the state PTAs will identify examples of innovative family engagement practices in their local PTAs and school communities and develop plans to integrate these best practices into statewide efforts and advocacy for family engagement. Among the five PTAs, one will be selected to receive additional funding to implement their plan.
“When it comes to school success, family engagement is just as important as having a great principal and teachers, a strong curriculum and a positive school climate. Transformative family engagement is a key strategy to ensure every child receives a high-quality education and has every opportunity for success,” added President-Elect Boggs. “Family engagement is the foundation of PTA and we are investing in our mission with the Center for Family Engagement.”
For more information about the Center for Family Engagement, visit PTA.org/FamilyEngagement. While there, you can sign up for quarterly updates.
You might be aware of National PTA’s Parents’ Guides to Student Success that help parents understand what their child is learning, how to talk with their child’s teacher, and how to help support their child’s education. National PTA has partnered with the National Education Association to create additional family guides to help parents support their child in critical learning areas.
PTA leaders and teachers can use the guides to engage families in education from Pre-K through high school. The guides are available in both English and Spanish and include:
Share these guides with your membership and all families at your school, whether it is sending out copies or links to your e-mail list, working with your school or district to produce copies for families, or including one in each of your newsletters throughout the year. By providing families with the support and information they need to help their children, you demonstrate the value of joining and supporting your PTA.
Does your school or school district have a wellness policy? Chances are, they do, but families and even teachers may not know much about it. The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service has created a Local School Wellness Policy Outreach Toolkit to help schools (or PTAs) engage staff and families on their school’s wellness policies. The toolkit includes:
- A cover letter about the kit
- A letter to the principal
- Flyers in English and Spanish for parents
- PowerPoint presentations aimed at families and staff
- A newsletter article
- Social media posts and graphics
Talk to your principal or superintendent about how your PTA can help support your school’s wellness policy. If there is a wellness committee, ask to have families represented on the committee as well. Use the USDA toolkit to support your activities.
The value of PTA can be measured in a wide variety of ways, but one of the most strategic is representation of the parent community at the state level through participation in meaningful relationships. One such relationship is with the Illinois Early Learning Council. Created by Public Act 93-380, the Council is a public-private partnership designed to strengthen, coordinate, and expand programs and services for children, birth to five, throughout Illinois. The Council builds on current programs to ensure a comprehensive, statewide early learning system (preschool, child care, Head Start, health care, and support programs for parents) to improve the lives of Illinois children and families.
The mission of the Council is to collaborate with child-serving systems and families to meet the needs of young children, prioritizing those with the highest need, through comprehensive early learning services for children and families prenatally to age five. The Illinois PTA continues to be part of the Early Learning Council, and a representative serves on the Principles and Practices subcommittee. Ongoing dialogue about the need for age-appropriate learning experiences has prompted the development of the Guidelines for Community Engagement (included in the ZIP file).
We believe these guidelines can assist parents of young children, as well as PTA leaders, in creating a dialogue with teachers and administrators centered on the Illinois Early Learning Standards, as well as with the community at large with regard to the value of high quality early learning programs. In addition, PTA Councils in districts with an early learning program may wish to meet with their district about forming an early learning PTA to serve as a resource for family communication and education.