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FINE Newsletter, Volume VII, Issue 2
Issue Topic: Engaging Students in Afterschool Learning


Engage Families for Anywhere, Anytime Learning
Learning today takes place anywhere, anytime. It extends well beyond the school walls into homes, museums, libraries, and digital learning environments. In this article published in the April 2015 issue of Phi Delta Kappan magazine, authors Heather B. Weiss and M. Elena Lopez of Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) highlight this changing educational landscape. They discuss three essential principles of re-imagining the engagement of families in anywhere, anytime learning that focus on shared responsibility, connection, and continuity. 

Resources for Promoting Child Development
In celebration of the Week of the Young Child, HFRP featured the work of Head Start and its two-generation approach. Here you can access HFRP’s top picks for pamphlets, handouts, videos, webinars, and multimedia learning tools designed by the seven Office of Head Start National Centers that promote children’s growth and family well-being.


Webinar Recording: Family Engagement and the Transition to School
On April 22, 2015, the National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement held a webinar focused on the transition to school. Watch a recording of this event in which Margaret Caspe from Harvard Family Research Project provides an overview of transition research, and Ken Smythe-Leistico from Ready Freddy talks about the success of the nationally recognized transition program in Pittsburgh. 

Parent Trigger in Practice: Snapshots From California
California’s Parent Empowerment Act of 2010, sometimes referred to as a “parent trigger” law, gives parents whose children attend a chronically low-performing school a way to force districts to make changes to the school, which could mean anything from replacing the principal and staff to transforming the school into a charter. California’s parent-trigger law has played a role in policy debates at a handful of Southern California schools since the legislation was passed. In this article, you can learn about these schools and the range of their experiences. 

OPEN Provides the Platform for Parent Voice and Community Participation in New Orleans’ Changing School Environment
The Orleans Public Education Network (OPEN), established in 2007, is working to promote parent empowerment in a region flooded with poor-quality schools. Be sure to check out how this Kellogg grantee is creating a safe space for dialogue and collaboration among teachers, parents, advocates, and community members to discuss critical issues like race and class and how they can have an adverse impact on student achievement.

What Is 21st Century Learning and Citizenship All About? Education for a Changing World—A Parents’ Guide for 21st Century Learning and Citizenship
Today’s students will graduate into a world where the demands of professional, personal, and public lives grow more complicated every year. Parents, families, and schools play a key role in supporting the development of 21st-century skills and 21st-century citizenship. In this three-part toolkit for parents and families, P21 (Partnership for 21st Century Learning) and the National PTA offer insight into what 21st-century learning and citizenship is all about, what 21st-century learning looks like, and what families can do to support it.

Family Service Learning Brief
Service-learning strategies have been widely used to enhance learning experiences of youth and young adults. But what can service-learning opportunities offer families? Turns out, a lot! This brief from the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) and the Goodling Institute highlights the benefits of engaging families in service-learning activities. It also offers initial findings from an independent evaluation of NCFL’s model that extend service-learning benefits to families through a six-step process, and concludes with action steps for carrying out family service-learning activities.

Parent and Family Involvement in Education, From the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2012
This report presents findings from the Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2012, which collected information about various aspects of parent involvement in education, such as help with homework, family activities, and parent involvement at school. Data from the surveys show that attending PTA meetings and general school meetings is the most commonly reported parent involvement activity.


Two Responses to Rethinking How Students Succeed
The Stanford Social Innovation Review recently featured two responses to its popular article “Rethinking How Students Succeed.”

Why Should We Fear Teachers Visiting Their Students’ Homes?
Home visits are becoming an increasingly popular strategy for family engagement in schools. This article from the Washington Post highlights the experience of Kristen Whitaker, 2015 Family Teacher of the Year Award recipient, and her school district as they embark on a mission to visit the homes of every child in every school. Whitaker shares that home visits have increased family engagement, producing positive outcomes in both student behavior and academic performance.


Sharing Data to Create Stronger Parent Partnerships
Check out how one teacher is breaking down barriers between schools and families when it comes to data sharing. In Humboldt, Arizona, Maureen Holt shows that by providing parents with access to the same data on children that teachers have, she will improve family engagement. One of her strategies is holding a series of Parent Data Nights at which Holt meets with each parent to demystify student reports and make the typically tricky task of helping parents understand reports into a fun family experience. You can download a sample student data report to see what kind of measures of success Humboldt is sharing with parents.


Senate Education Committee Marking Up ESEA Rewrite: Study the Amendments

Want to know who on the Senate Education Committee is prioritizing family engagement in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)? This resource from Education Week’s Politics K‒12 blog lays out the amendments proposed to the ESEA bill by state. Discover how senators from Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Georgia are bringing parents and families into the conversation. 


Afterschool Programs: Inspiring Students with a Connected Learning Approach

Afterschool programs have been among the pioneers in applying a connected learning approach—creating a learning environment for students that builds on their interests; introduces them to new passions; provides mentors and a supportive peer network; and links this engagement to academics, careers, and civic participation. This new report from the Afterschool Alliance discusses the role afterschool programs play in the ecology of learning and includes examples of afterschool programs offering connected learning opportunities.  

Schwarzenegger and National Leaders Urge Congress to Keep After-School Funding
“After-school programs protect our single-greatest resource—our kids,” said former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the National After-School Summit he convened on March 24. The National After-School Summit gathered in hopes of establishing a network of voices to come together to urge Congress to uphold federal funding for afterschool programs. Watch the recorded webcast of the event, and be sure to take a look at the interactive map of afterschool programs that received funding through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative!


This resource is part of the FINE Newsletter on Engaging Students in Afterschool Learning. 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