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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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Phi Delta Kappn logoLearning today extends well beyond the school walls into homes, museums, libraries, and digital learning environments. Learning occurs anywhere and anytime, forging new relationships between families, schools, and communities that evolve as settings and opportunities grow and develop.

The April 2015 issue of Phi Delta Kappan magazine highlights this changing educational landscape in the article Engage Families for Anywhere, Anytime Learning. Authors Heather B. Weiss and M. Elena Lopez of Harvard Family Research Project discuss three essential principles of re-imagining the engagement of families in anywhere, anytime learning that focus on shared responsibility, connection, and continuity. To foster new ways of involving children in learning, families, schools, and communities can:

  • Share responsibility for supporting learners in pursuing interests and developing critical skills,
  • Connect children to learning opportunities across different settings, and
  • Co-create learning pathways from birth through young adulthood.

The article highlights exemplary collaborations and practices for engaging families in learning anywhere and anytime. Examples of successful programs cited include:

  • Makeshop, a permanent exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh that supports family engagement in innovative museum experiences that inspire creativity and curiosity among children.
  • Greenwood Shalom afterschool program, which empowers families with information and skills to advocate for their child’s participation and learning in both school and afterschool programs as well as in other settings.
  • Comienza en Casa (It Starts at Home), a school readiness program for migrant preschool children and their families that provides parents with early learning activities they can do at home with their children using real-world materials or on an iPad supplied by the program.

School and community organizations can engage families in an exchange of information and practices to enable children, especially those living in distressed neighborhoods, to become successful learners starting from the earliest years.

Read Engage Families for Anywhere, Anytime Learning

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