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The goal of positive and productive family and community involvement is on every school improvement list, but few schools have implemented comprehensive programs of partnership. Research suggests that this goal is an important one to reach because families and communities contribute to children's learning, development, and school success at every grade level.
Studies are accumulating that show that well-designed programs of partnership are important for helping all families support their children's education in elementary, middle, and high schools. That is, if schools plan and implement comprehensive programs of partnership, then many more families respond, including those who would not become involved on their own.
Three questions need to be addressed to help educators move from believing in the importance of family and community involvement to conducting effective programs of partnership:
What is a comprehensive program of school, family, and community partnerships? How do family and community partnerships link to other aspects of successful schools? How can all schools develop and sustain productive programs of partnerships? Components of a Comprehensive Program of Partnerships
A framework of six types of involvement guides schools in establishing full and productive programs of school-family-community partnerships. This section summarizes the six types of involvement and discusses a few sample practices that are being implemented in schools across the country that are working to improve and increase family and community connections. Also noted are some of the challenges that all schools must overcome to create successful partnerships, along with examples of results that can be expected from each type of involvement for students, families, and educators.
Comprehensive programs of partnerships include activities for all six types of involvement. Because there are many activities to choose from, elementary, middle, and high schools can tailor their programs of partnerships by selecting activities that match specific school goals and the interests and needs of students and families.
Type 1–Parenting. Type 1 activities are conducted to help families strengthen parenting skills, understand child and adolescent development, and set home conditions to support learning at each school level. Type 1 activities also enable families to provide information to schools so that educators understand families' backgrounds, cultures, and goals for their children.
Sample practices. Among Type 1 activities, elementary, middle, and high schools may conduct workshops for parents; provide short, clear summaries of important information on parenting; and organize opportunities for parents to exchange ideas with other parents, educators, and community experts on topics of child and adolescent development. Topics may include health, nutrition, discipline, guidance, peer pressure, preventing drug abuse, and planning for the future. Type 1 activities also provide families with information on what to expect and how to prepare for students' transitions from pre-school to elementary school, elementary to middle school, and middle to high school. Additional topics for successful parenting may concern family roles and responsibilities in student attendance, college planning, and other topics that are important for student success in school. Schools also may offer parents General Educational Development (GED) programs, family support sessions, family computer classes, and other learning and social opportunities for parents and for students. To ensure that families provide valuable information to the schools, teachers may ask parents at the start of each school year or periodically...