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The Harvard Family Research Project separated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to become the Global Family Research Project as of January 1, 2017. It is no longer affiliated with Harvard University.

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Dear FINE Members,

In this issue of the FINE Newsletter, we explore the partnership of families and afterschool programs to promote youth learning. We highlight promising methods that afterschool programs can use to engage families. We also examine families’ roles in accessing high-quality afterschool programs and in helping to build on their children’s learning at home and in the larger community.
This issue’s Commentary puts forth the idea that the relationship between families and afterschool is shifting from a focus on increasing afterschool program participation (program-centered) toward a focus on parents’ supporting children’s learning and development in afterschool settings (learning-centered). Likewise, whereas afterschool programs used to take the lead in supporting children’s learning in their programming, they are now working with families as equal partners in this effort.

Our three Voices from the Field articles explore family–program partnerships through the lens of recent research as well as from the perspectives of parents and programs. Researcher and consultant Priscilla Little reflects on how the afterschool field has grown from being a safe haven for children to a central element in their learning. Program evaluator Samantha Grant encourages parents like herself to identify and seek out high-quality afterschool experiences for their children. Jane Werner and Lisa Brahms, from the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, discuss the Museum’s innovative MAKESHOP studio space, which invites children and families to co-create projects. 

We also highlight related Harvard Family Research Project Resources & Research, including Families and Expanded Learning Opportunities: Working Together to Support Children’s Learning, which explores a learning-centered approach to family–program partnerships. Other features in this section include Afterschool Evaluation 101: How to Evaluate an Expanded Learning Program, our tool designed to assist afterschool programs in evaluating their work, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers—Stable Funding for Innovation and Continuous Improvement, the most recent in our series of Research Updates that highlight new and innovative methods and findings in out-of-school time research and evaluation.

As always, we invite your feedback on the topics we explore in this FINE Newsletter and encourage you to pass on this issue to interested friends and colleagues. We've made it even easier to share FINE content with your social networks: Find the "share" button on the left of every page and send interesting articles via email or through other platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. And join the conversation about this issue on our Facebook page.

Harvard Family Research Project Commentary

Joining Forces: Families and Out-of-School Programs as Partners in Supporting Children’s Learning and Development

Harvard Family Research Project’s Senior Research Analysts Heidi Rosenberg, Erin Harris, and Shani Wilkes point to the increasing importance of family engagement in afterschool programs and the recent shift from program-centered to learning-centered enrichment programs. The authors note the numerous roles that families can play in enhancing their children’s overall academic success and underscore the benefits of children learning alongside family members during programs outside of school.

Voices From the Field

Raising Expectations for Out-of-School Time 

Samantha Grant, a program evaluator at the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development, and a parent, offers guidance to families looking to make good decisions about their children’s out-of-school time activities.

MAKESHOP: Family Engagement in Exploration, Creativity, and Innovation

Jane Werner and Lisa Brahms, from the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, discuss the Museum’s innovative MAKESHOP studio space, which invites children and families to co-create projects and transforms the traditional museum visit experience.

A Field is Born: Reflections on a Decade of Afterschool

Priscilla Little, an independent consultant working in afterschool research and evaluation, reflects on the transformation of afterschool from being  merely a “safe haven” for kids whose parents are working to a core component of a holistic education. She also highlights six strategies for engaging families in afterschool programs.

Resources & Research From Harvard Family Research Project

Families and Expanded Learning Opportunities: Working Together to Support Children's Learning

In this issue of our policy brief series created in collaboration with the National Conference of State Legislatures, we explore ways in which families and staff from expanded learning opportunities (ELOs), including after-school and summer learning programs, can work as equal partners to ensure that ELOs are making meaningful contributions to children's learning.

Tips & Tools

Afterschool Evaluation 101: How to Evaluate an Expanded Learning Program

This toolkit is designed to help afterschool program directors develop an evaluation strategy. The guide will walk you through the early planning stages, help you select the evaluation design and data collection methods that are best suited to your program, and help you analyze the data and present the results.

Family Involvement News

June 2012 News

Father and daughter reading together We are committed to keeping you up to date on what's new in family engagement. View our list of links to current reports, articles, resources, and events in the field.

Contact Us

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The FINE Team at Harvard Family Research Project

© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project