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FINE Newsletter, Volume VIII, Issue 1
Professional Development Tools to Make Continuous Family Engagement Come Alive! 


Libraries for the 21st Century: It’s a Family Thing

Libraries play an integral role in the life of a community by supporting children and families in anytime, anywhere learning. Harvard Family Research Project has launched a new effort with the Public Library Association to curate and share the promising family engagement practices of libraries across the country. Read about the project and browse our library resources, then share your ideas and get involved!

Five Lessons Learned About District Leadership for Family Engagement
District leaders: Does your district have clear goals and objectives for family engagement? Does student data drive your decisions? Do school leaders support engagement practices? Read powerful advice on family–school partnerships from the former assistant superintendent of family and student engagement for Boston Public Schools, Michele Brooks. Learn about key principles your district can implement to establish meaningful relationships with caregivers and community members.

Quilting Stories of Innovation in Family Engagement
Harvard Family Research Project created a quilt of transformation and innovation in family engagement. The quilt weaves together a collection of multimedia presentations and stories of successful family engagement work, and we want our quilt to grow! Get inspired by the work of featured change makers, and then share your innovative family engagement ideas with us.

Resources Promoting Educational Equity Through Family Engagement
Family engagement plays a key role in promoting educational equity in schools and communities across the country. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work for freedom and justice, Harvard Family Research Project compiled a list of resources that highlight the family and community engagement innovations, policies, strategies, and programs that can help promote educational equity for all children.


Districts Work to Bolster Parent Involvement
The positive impacts of family engagement in schools are being realized by a growing number of school districts. Harvard Family Research Project’s M. Elena Lopez, featured in this news update from District Administration, encourages districts to ensure their engagement strategies are holistic and integrated throughout all aspects of their work. “Schools should not just have random acts of family engagement, but really have family engagement as a core strategy that schools develop and support in order to achieve school goals,” Lopez said. Read this article for proven strategies to engage families!

Clave al Éxito (Key to Success): A Complete Guide to Your Child’s Education
Looking for resources to support English Language Learners and their families? Clave al Éxito (Key to Success) is a free online and mobile tool that provides Spanish-speaking caregivers with resources to support their child’s learning and improve communication with English-speaking school staff. Families can access grade-level guides, a parent academy with video tutorials, and lists of recommended books for each grade level. Teachers can also access a parent communicator tool that translates teacher notes from English to Spanish. All resources, tips, and guides have English and Spanish translations. Simply scroll down the page for access to transformative resources!


Family and Community Engagement Toolkit for Schools
This toolkit has it all! Explore a multitude of practical resources to boost family and community engagement in schools using this toolkit developed by the Welsh government. The toolkit’s five themes—exercising leadership, using a whole-school approach, welcoming families, helping families support their child’s learning, and developing community partnerships—provide action steps, strategies, and fresh ideas to guide schools through the process of creating holistic engagement. The toolkit also includes a parent survey, workshop ideas, school checklists, and family engagement activities, among other resources.

Why We Need a Human-Centered Approach to Family Engagement
What would happen if families’ desires and values were the first priority in family engagement practices? The human-centered design approach to family engagement—with empathy as the entry point—may be the solution to welcoming low-income, immigrant, and culturally diverse families into family engagement practices. Through learning to empathize with families—this empathy map will help!—educators can learn how to support diverse families and foster positive family-school-community partnerships.


Opportunity for All? Technology and Learning in Lower-Income Families
About 94% of American families have some form of Internet access, according to a new report from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. For many low-income families, however, Internet access is limited to a mobile device. This report chronicles how parents and children use the Internet together and what their attitudes and feelings are toward digital technology. Readers can dig into the paper’s statistics, analysis, and case studies to gain a nuanced understanding of Internet and technology usage among low-income families and communities and to better understand access and participation gaps. 

Tipping the Scales: The Resilience Game
Test your critical thinking in an interactive game from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University! Players of the ‘The Resilience Game” must invest in a variety of community initiatives, such as expanding early learning programs and building community play spaces, in order to build the resiliency of children and the community. The player’s task is to build resilience and positive outcomes within the community to counter any negative ones. The more resilience the better. However, time and money are limited and negative events occur regularly. After playing, check out the related resources on the science of resilience and child development!


Positive Racial Identity Development in Early Education: Understanding PRIDE in Pittsburgh
The University of Pittsburgh School of Education Race and Early Childhood Collaborative has released a new report focused on racial identity development in early childhood. The report highlights results of a broad review of the literature related to race and young children. It also presents themes emerging from focus groups, surveys, and interviews with families and community members as well as findings from early childhood classroom observations and curricula reviews. Taken together, the report shows that racial identity for young African American children is an urgent concern and more resources are needed for parents and teachers to support positive racial identity development.  

Why Making Music Matters: Music and Early Childhood Development
Singing to your children, listening to music together, and providing opportunities for them to perform and invent music can have positive impacts on their development, a new report from Carnegie Hall discovered. The report summarizes research findings that illuminate the benefits of music on a child’s brain development, communication skills, and self-regulation during early childhood. Music can also help children build strong relationships with caregivers, peers, and the community. Explore the report to learn more about music programs across the country and find out how you can engage children in musical experiences as a parent, educator, musician, or community leader.

Toyota Family Learning Results 2015
A new evaluation of the Toyota Family Learning program from the National Center for Families Learning—a literacy program for families in low-income communities—found participating families showed a 90% increase in their family engagement in education. The program is also credited with a 20% increase in family literacy activities at home and in the community. The Toyota Family Learning program, which aims to provide educational opportunities that can build stronger communities, currently serves 10 communities across the United States, from San Pedro, California, to Providence, Rhode Island.

School Community Journal, Fall/Winter Issue
The Fall/Winter 2015 issue of School Community Journal is here! This edition features studies on bullying prevention, English learner parental involvement, school‒family partnerships in preschool, and strategies for engaging children with disabilities and their families. One study explores the relationship between parental involvement and academic performance of special education middle-school students. To access all 12 articles in the issue, click on “Search by Issue” and choose “Fall/Winter 2015” from the School Community Journal drop-down menu.

This resource is part of the March 2016 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