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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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FINE Newsletter, Volume VII, Issue 1
Issue Topic: Engaging Families, Schools, and Communities in the Transition to School


Taking the Lead in Family Engagement: A Message to Our Followers on Presidents’ Day
To commemorate Presidents’ Day, Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) profiled how leaders in the field of family engagement shape, and change for the better, family engagement policies, approaches, and practices. We found that leaders offer big, bold ideas, challenge popular convention, seek adaptive solutions to problems, and move ideas into actions. 

What’s New for Parent U? Web Conference
How can we start conversations about family engagement with parents and teachers? How can we support families in exploring digital apps for learning? How can we use case studies in our family engagement work? Expert practitioners and enthusiastic participants explored these and related questions during a web conference that you can now access on HFRP Interact.

Promoting Educational Equity Through Family Engagement: The King Legacy
A must-read for anyone interested in educational equity. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of freedom and justice, HFRP compiled ideas from eight experts from the field, including Ronald Ferguson, Sandra Gutierrez, Heather Weiss, and Edmund Gordon, about six important action steps and principles that promote educational equity through family engagement.

Create Your Own Teaching Case Toolkit: Building Your Family Engagement Skills and Knowledge
Join the professional development conversation with HFRP’s new Create Your Own Case Toolkit. Designed for teachers, afterschool staff, camp counselors, and other professionals who work with families, this toolkit allows you to transform your own professional experiences in the field into cases for others to read and learn from. The toolkit comes with a facilitators guide as well as a collection of cases that can be used to spark conversations between practitioners and families.


Partnership 101: The Advocacy Process Workshop
This booklet was designed to assist in the creation of authentic, meaningful, and effective partnerships between families and educators to support the success of their children. Developed by the Federal Way Public Schools’ Parent Leadership Institute, the booklet features: (1) tips for schools from parents, (2) questions parents can ask their child and teacher, (3) ways to navigate the educational system, (4) what effective advocacy looks like, (5) ways to promote children’s success, and (6) a blank involvement plan that families can fill out to help children succeed.

Engaging and Communicating With Parents: A Teacher’s Guide
Research supports the importance of family engagement for student’s success. So how can teacher preparation programs better prepare teachers to do this work? In this roundtable blog from Education Week Teacher, five educators offer their views. Ideas include developing healthy student–teacher relationships as a precursor to parent–teacher relationships, making family engagement as important as lesson planning, shedding the ideology of “teacher as expert” when working with parents, and using open and frequent communication to build trusting relationships.

Home-to-School Connections
From Edutopia, this blog features tools and resources designed to assist educators involved in strengthening family, school, and community partnerships. A recent post, Listening to Parents: What It Means to Be an Ally, highlights the important role of educators as listeners in the family–teacher relationship. Another post, Beginners’ Guide to Connecting Home and School, offers out-of-the-box ways to connect school and home for students by building family engagement right into the curriculum.


School Community Journal—Winter Issue
It’s here! The Fall/Winter issue of the School Community Journal has something for everyone. This issue covers topics such as urban schooling, strategies for engaging with families of color, and teacher preparation in family engagement. Also included are book reviews of A Teacher’s Guide to Communicating With Parents and When Middle-Class Parents Choose Urban Schools: Class, Race, and the Challenge of Equity in Public Education. To access the issue click on “Search by Issue” and select “Fall/Winter 2014.”


Lessons From Advancing Quality Partnerships Learning Community Workshop 1: Family Engagement
Read about family engagement actions and strategies that can support students’ (1) engagement in learning, (2) initiative/grit, and (3) relationships with peers. These actions and strategies were developed by members of the Advancing Quality Partnerships initiative, a joint venture of Boston Beyond, Boston Public Schools, and the Barr Foundation, which provides support for schools through partnerships between school leaders, out-of-school time program directors, and other community organizations.

Engaged Parents Successful Students: An Overview of Local and National Parent Engagement in Education Efforts
This report scans the parent engagement landscape in South King County/South Seattle, Washington, along with a sample of national models. The report explores what researchers and parents say about family engagement and highlights best practices in school district–based and community-based parent engagement. Check out the full report to read about examples of successful family engagement initiatives across the country—including Parent University models—and key recommendations.

Quality Connections, Quality Experiences—New Assessment Tools Help Families and Care Providers Build Foundational Relationships
In this blog post, Julie Mendez reviews the Family and Provider/Teacher Relationship Quality Assessment tool. Mendez finds that the new instruments allow providers ways to better measure and improve family engagement strategies. She suggests that the tool can be used to: (1) assess relationship quality beyond contact hours, (2) assess relationship quality in terms of areas of improvement, (3) assist teachers to better understand family needs, and (4) inform program quality and continuous improvement.

Engaging Families: Supporting Students From Cradle to Career
In the final newsletter of 2014, the Engaging Families Office of Communication and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education highlights the 2014 Blue Ribbon School recipients and announces a report on the progress of 14 recipient states of the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge funds. The newsletter also draws attention to a new Web-based interactive map of family engagement resources accessible to those interested in knowing what’s available in their area.


Empathy and Research: Engaging Parents With Tech Initiatives
As 21st-century technology reshapes classroom learning, many educators report being met with parent resistance. Devorah Heitner suggests that what is perceived as parental discomfort with change is really a desire to be better informed about how technology will be used and how it will benefit their child’s education. To help ease the transition, Heitner offers tips for school leaders and educators on successful (and not so successful!) ways to navigate the teacher–parent relationship when it comes to technology.  

Using Scannable Technology to Reach Parents Year Round
What if teachers could send students home with a magnet on the first day of school that would tell parents everything they might want to know about their child’s academic year—homework assignments, grades, tests, and school calendars? Well, it turns out you can. The newest wave of family engagement with technology is scannable: QR codes and AR triggers. Author Monica Burns argues that scannable technology allows educators to keep in constant contact with parents without all the work of traditional modes of communication. Burns includes tips for reaching parents without smart technology and for leveraging students’ familiarity with technology to help their parents get connected.


Designing Apps for Co-Play: Can Research and Analysis Make Learning More Fun for Parents and Kids?
In this blog, Dylan Arena, co-founder of Kidaptive, writes how co-play, co-learning, and co-engagement are the ingredients for successful digital learning apps. He emphasizes that there are many great ways for parents to support their early learners, including connecting app learning to real-world contexts and supporting transfer of skills from digital to physical contexts. 


This resource is part of the March FINE Newsletter. The FINE Newsletter shares the newest and best family engagement research and resources from Harvard Family Research Project and other field leaders. To access the archives of past issues, please visit

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