QSLA Lunch & Learn Webinars

QSLA Lunch & Learn Webinars

At these 1-hour webinars, providers discuss and share ideas around our monthly Family Engagement Tip articles. Recordings posted on this page are for educational purpose only, and viewing these videos does not constitute Professional Development hours for QSLA.

Building Relationships With Families in the Digital Age

May 12, 2020

This 1-hour “Lunch & Learn” session will focus on exploring the use of digital communication in building relationships with families.


May Family Engagement Tip: Strengthening Families During Times of Crisis

Strengthening Families During Times of Crisis

May 13, 2020

Lee este artículo en español

Working with children and families means that, at any given time, at least one, usually more, are experiencing a crisis situation. Whether families experience the unexpected loss of employment, a sudden sickness in the family, or have to shift into quarantine during an international pandemic, they are constantly needing to adapt to and navigate these life challenges. During these difficult times, some families might openly talk about their experience while others might be less than willing to let others know that they are in need due to fear of judgement, concern for their safety, or other factors that we may never know about.

Reminder:

Because the families that you serve might be hesitant to let you know that they are experiencing challenges in life, it is important to be proactive rather than reactive.  Have strength-based supports available at all times, not only when a crisis arises.

While you might not know what families are living through, we, as early learning professionals, have a responsibility to support families in our efforts to teach and nurture their children.  This month, our FE Tip focuses on the Strengthening Families Framework and the 5 Protective Factors, a way of providing support and empowerment to the families that you serve.  By developing a deeper understanding of the research-informed strategies that are a part of this framework, we can move towards a well-rounded and strength-based approach to supporting families through times of crisis.

Strengthening Families and the 5 Protective Factors

Strengthening Families is a framework, informed by research, which focuses on the development of 5 Protective Factors that are critical to:    

  • A family’s ability to cope with stressful situations
  • A family’s knowledge of how to support their child’s development
  • Protecting young children from child abuse, neglect, and maltreatment

Traditional support services focus on finding and fixing the problems that families face.  The Strengthening Families Framework does the opposite.  It supports the development of a strength-based approach. Rather than asking families what they need or what they are missing, Strengthening Families provides a framework for programs and educators to begin interactions by asking for and highlighting a family’s areas of strength.  Such areas can include having a strong support system, knowledge of their community, access to educational opportunities, or a desire to identify the best educational opportunities available for their child.  It is through the identification of those strengths that educators and families can work hand in hand to determine ways to use those existing strengths to address areas of need

What is a strength-based approach?

A strength-based approach is a way of interacting with families that is grounded in understanding and developing the strengths and capabilities of the families you serve.

It is a belief that “the problem is the problem; the person is not the problem”

Strengthening Families is not a curriculum that tells programs what to do and how to do it.  Instead, it provides a foundation and approach to working with families that programs can build upon based on the unique families and communities that they serve

The Five Protective Factors

At the core of the Strengthening Families Framework are the 5 Protective Factors, which are “characteristics or strengths of individuals, families, communities or societies that act to mitigate risks and promote positive well-being and healthy development” (Center for the Study of Social Policy).  These factors are the attributes, as identified in research, that help families successfully navigate challenging situations.

The 5 Protective Factors are:

  • Concrete support in times of need
  • Social connections
  • Knowledge of parenting and child development
  • Parental Resilience
  • Social and emotional competence of children

These Protective Factors provide a structure for professionals and programs as they seek to identify ways to support and empower families.  They also offer a framework for public policy and systems development at the local, state and national level.

Strategies for Strengthening Families during Times of Crisis

To support families in having access to concrete support in times of need, programs can:

  • Create and distribute a virtual newsletter (using, e-mail, Mail Chimp or Google Docs, etc.) with general information about local resource organizations that support families of young children
  • Invite a community resource organization (monthly or quarterly) to a virtual family meeting to share information so families can learn more about the services offered through that organization. If possible, record these meetings and send the recording out to all families so those who could not attend live, still have access to the information.
  • Post relevant resources and support information on your program’s website or social media pages so families can access them as needed.

To support families in building social connections, programs can:

  • Host virtual “Coffee Connect” sessions (weekly, biweekly, or monthly) via an e-communications platform (like Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Skype) where families can log in and have conversations with one another, check in, discuss a pressing topic, etc. (over a cup of coffee)
  • Ask some of your parent leaders to connect virtually (through calling, Facetime, text message, or email) with families in your program to serve as a source of social support and connection

During times of stress, strong families:

  • Are able to be resourceful
  • Understand their rights in accessing eligible sources
  • Continue to be nurturing and emotionally available to their child
  • Continue to maintain a positive attitude
  • Maintain a sense of connectedness that promotes security and confidence

To learn more, visit:

https://cssp.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Core-Meanings-of-the-SF-Protective-Factors-2015.pdf

To help families develop their knowledge of parenting and child development, programs can:

  • Create a virtual list of activities and on-line resources, aligned to the different ages and developmental milestones of the children in your care,that families can do with their children at home. You can also share resources via social media, text, or other communication platform directly with families.
  • Offer virtual family workshops on different topics that discuss the developmental milestones (physical, social, emotional, cognitive) of the children currently enrolled in the program

To build parental resilience among families, programs can:

  • Partner with a local mental health organization that can provide support to families (through workshops, individual counseling, resource sharing, etc.)
  • Provide (or host) virtual professional development opportunities for staff that focus on strength-based language, Strengthening Families, Trauma Informed Care, and supporting positive interactions with families
  • Send words of encouragement and positivity to families (through social media posts, via text messages, through email, etc.)

To support families in developing the social and emotional competence of children, programs can:

  • Host virtual social events for children and their families to provide an opportunity to engage in play together (ex: on-line play dates, literacy night, STEM night, Family Zumba)
  • Provide families with on-line information, resources, and activities related to social/emotional development and building healthy familial relationships

There are a variety of different ways to support the families in your program during challenging times.  Having a strong relationship with families is key to knowing what they need, what resources and opportunities would help them meet those needs, and how to support and empower them to successfully navigate future challenges.     

References

Hammond, W., & Zimmerman, R. (2012, January). A strengths-based perspective. Retrieved April 01, 2019, from https://shed-the-light.webs.com/documents/RSL_STRENGTH_BASED_PERSPECTIVE.pdf

More Resources

Wendolly A. Escobar, Ed.D.

Family Education Coordinator, Quality Start Los Angeles

Wendolly’s professional career began over 10 years ago as a lead teacher for a classroom of energetic preschoolers. In her current role, Wendolly is proud to support Quality Start Los Angeles by being an advocate for building authentic and supportive relationships with families of young children. She believes that by creating family-focused systems, early learning programs have the capacity to uplift and empower families and ensure the best outcomes for LA’s youngest learners.


Family Engagement Monthly Tip January 2020

 

Defining and Understanding Equity

January 2, 2020

The start of a new decade is the perfect time to reflect upon our regular work with families through a renewed equity lens.  Equity is a concept that is integral to the work of early learning professionals and programs.  Not only does equity impact the work that early learning professionals do daily with young children in the classroom, but it also plays a key role in the relationships that we build with families.  Decades of research highlight the important role that family engagement plays in supporting the immediate and long-term outcomes of young children.  These outcomes, however, do not come without an intentional focus on equity within early learning programs[1].  To support the development and implementation of equitable systems for engaging with families, the following monthly tip will explore:

  • The concepts of equality, equity, and justice
  • The connection between equity and family engagement
  • The role that early learning programs play in supporting equity in the first years of life

By developing a deeper understanding of equity and its practices, early learning programs and professionals can work towards the development of policies, procedures, and systems that support all families in intentional ways, that meet their needs and that respect their diverse experiences and perspectives.

Understanding equality

 

Equality is defined as the state of being equal, particularly as it relates to having the same rights, status, and opportunities[2].  As depicted in the image above, this concept assumes that everyone, regardless of age, race, gender, ability, or sexual orientation, has the same needs and, therefore, benefits from the same supports.  Systems that are built on the concept of equality hold the core belief that everyone can succeed by receiving equal treatment.

When it comes to working with families equality is the assumption that all families should be treated a certain way, should receive and understand information a certain way, and should be involved in their child’s education in a certain way.  Equality is at the core of opportunities for family involvement wherein every family is offered the same opportunities to get involved in their child’s education regardless of specific needs, abilities, or capacities. Here are some examples of family involvement practices centered on equality:

  • Programs only offer family members the opportunity to volunteer by working in the classroom.
  • Parent/Teacher conferences are only held in-person, during the work day.
  • Family events are determined and planned only by program administrators and are the same each year.

As you reflect on your own professional and programmatic practices, consider the following question: How is the concept of equality reflected in the way that I build relationships with families?

Understanding equity

 

Equity is a state of being free from bias or favoritism[3].  While both equity and equality are often used interchangeably, they are, in fact, distinctly different.  While equality assumes that providing the same types of resources will lead everyone to “succeed”, equity acknowledges that people across demographic groups embody diverse needs that cannot be met through a uniform solution.  As depicted in the image above, equity focuses on providing the support that each person needs to be successful.  Some might not need any support to achieve success, while others might need additional support and resources to be successful.  Systems that are built on the concept of equity value diversity and seek to include everyone in achieving the same level of positive outcomes[4].

When it comes to working with families, an equitable system for family engagement is one that is created in partnership with families and recognizes that everyone has unique beliefs, values, and experiences that impact the way in which they parent at home and support their child in school.  Examples of equitable practices that support family engagement are exemplified when[5]:

  • Translation is provided for all activities involving families who do not speak English. This includes program policies, handouts, event flyers, resource information, and meeting/workshop information.  When the majority of families in attendance do not speak English, the event is held in the language spoken by those in attendance and translation is offered in English.
  • Families are regularly provided opportunities to share about themselves in a variety of different ways (in person, through anonymous comment cards, or through online surveys). Families are asked about their needs, interests, skills, beliefs, and values.  Activities and events vary based on the information gathered and are planned based on the information directly provided by the families.
  • Program administration and staff work collaboratively with families to create a shared vision for equitable family engagement that guides the way in which families and staff work in partnership.

As you reflect on your own professional and programmatic practices, consider the following question: Are the family engagement practices at my program equal or are they equitable?

 

Equitable practices in family engagement is a social justice issue

 

Developing equitable family engagement practices in your early learning program is a matter of social justice.  As is depicted below, justice is achieved when everyone can participate without supports or accommodations because the barrier to participation has been eliminated.

There are many barriers that currently exist that keep families from being able to fully engage in their child’s education and build meaningful relationships with the staff that care for their child.  Barriers such as financial security, immigration status, language, stable employment, and physical disabilities are very real concerns that family wrestle with daily.  When families are unable to meet their basic needs, whether they be physical, mental, or emotional, it is almost impossible for them to have the capacity to be full partners in their child’s education.

While those barriers might never go away, there are ways that you can move towards equity and social justice as you establish supportive relationships with families.  Consider the following[6]:

  • Be curious by making time to learn about each of the families of the children you serve.
  • Maintain an openness to the multiple and varied forms of family engagement.
  • Ask families what they need from your program and use that information to inform policies and processes.

Remember that your early learning program is a child’s first formal community, beyond that which their immediate and extended family offers.  Therefore, it is important that your environment frame every learning experience that children encounter within the context of equity, wherein children learn that they are valued by others, how to treat others with fairness and respect, and how to embrace, rather than fear or ignore, differences.

 

Check out our other family engagement tips

 

References:

[1] https://cssp.org/resource/equity-in-early-childhood-system/

[2] https://www.macmillandictionary.com/us/dictionary/american/equality

[3] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/equity

[4] https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/OECD/Documents/Early%20Learning%20Council%20Executive%20Committee%20Racial%20Equity%20Definition.pdf

[5] https://statesupportnetwork.ed.gov/system/files/equitable_family_engag_508.pdf

[6] https://www.naeyc.org/resources/position-statements/equity


Family Engagement Monthly Tip February 2020

 

Funds of Knowledge: Learning to Recognize and

Value the Expertise of all Families

February 1, 2020

Last month, we discussed family engagement as an issue of equity and social justice.  Family engagement is not a practice of one-size-fits-all “Back to School” nights and literacy events. This month, we focus on understanding the importance of accessing the funds of knowledge that each family carries with them.  Moving towards a more equitable approach to engaging families involves shifting one’s perspective and commonly held beliefs about the ways in which families can contribute to a program. Tapping into each family’s lived experiences and expertise (their funds of knowledge) allows you to do just that.

What are funds of knowledge?

The research defines funds of knowledge are the “historically accumulated and culturally developed bodies of knowledge and skills essential for household or individual functioning and well-being” (Moll, Amanti, Neff, & Gonzalez, 1992).  Put into practice, it consists of the everyday knowledge and skills that contribute to the overall success of the family, which are passed down from generation to generation.  It is knowledge that does not reside in a textbook, nor is it information that families typically acquire through their years in school.

To tap into a family’s funds of knowledge is to bring to light the story of that child and their family.  It is a method of gathering information that creates a space for learning more about your families in some of the following areas:

  • Language
  • Family Values and Traditions
  • Educational Activities and Values
  • Family Occupations
  • Culture and Religion
  • Caregiving (i.e. taking care of children/others, cooking, housekeeping, etc.)
  • Health and safety practices

It is important to note that tapping into a family’s funds of knowledge goes beyond a “getting to know you” questionnaire or implementing a “culturally sensitive or informed curriculum”.  It is a method of gathering information that seeks to challenges the deficit perspective, which “tends to blame the person or group of people from a specific culture for their perceived failure” (Sebolt, 2018) and instead recognizes families as capable, willing and strong. Seeking out families’ funds of knowledge challenges professionals to learn all about a family’s capacities and how those strengths can be interwoven into the educational program or curriculum.

Why tap into a family’s funds of knowledge?

Part of the role of an educator is to develop an understanding of the children in one’s classroom to be able to best support their needs.  Learning about a child’s home life, particularly from the perspective of the families that spend the majority of time with the child, is the key to doing just that.

By adopting this perspective of family as true expert, we:

  • Recognize that building a relationship with, and learning from, families is an honor rather than a chore.
  • Appreciate that families have insights and information about their children that we’ll probably never have a chance to access simply by conducting observations or assessments in the classroom.
  • Recognize “households as containing ample cultural and cognitive resources with great, potential utility for classroom instruction” (Moll, Amanti, Neff, & Gonzalez, 1992, p. 134). In order to truly serve “the whole child”, you need the knowledge and expertise of the families in your program.
  • Take a strength-based approach to collaborating with families.

The connection between funds of knowledge and family engagement

Traditionally, family engagement has been defined by the on-site opportunities afforded to families by a school, such as activities, workshops, and events that require a family to be physically present in a school setting as one of the only means of engagement.  Those families that can’t attend have often been classified as “unwilling to engage” or “not caring about their child”.

The funds of knowledge approach focuses on going beyond this limited definition of engagement and seeks to identify the ways in which individual families understand their role in their child’s education and recognizes them as the experts of their own lives and their children’s lives.  The saying “the parent is a child’s first teacher, and the home is a child’s first school” comes from this concept of funds of knowledge.

According to the research:

  • “Drawing from a family’s funds of knowledge is important for nurturing relationships between the school and the family” (Sebolt, 2018)
  • “This practice serves to build stronger home-school connections, which in turn can foster increased parental and family engagement” (Sebolt, 2018)
  • “The approach creates a platform for co-creating knowledge from school to home and home to school” (Global Family Research Project, 2019)
  • “Teachers assume the role of the learner, and in doing so, help establish a fundamentally new, more symmetrical relationship with the parents of the students” (Moll, Amanti, Neff, & Gonzalez, 1992, p. 139)

Using funds of knowledge to enhance practice

As you reflect on this information and make connections to your current work with families, consider the following:

Funds of Knowledge Video

  • You have your own fund of knowledge that influence the way you live your life outside of the workplace. The way in which you connect with your family, give and receive advice, cook, shop, view education, etc. all contribute to who you are and how you see the world.  To get to know all about you, just like the families you serve, someone has to take the time to learn about the intricacies of your way of life.
  • This might make you uncomfortable. Tapping into a family’s funds of knowledge means that you might learn things about families that are sensitive, emotional, and vulnerable.  Being comfortable with this level of sharing and being able to validate and learn from each person’s experience, without judgement, takes some getting used to.
  • Tapping into funds of knowledge takes time and intentionality. Building relationships that lead to strong and lasting partnerships takes time and requires that you specifically seek to create opportunities where this exchange of information can occur.  Such opportunities might include:
    • Family Cafes-listen to families as they share about their experiences to learn more about the skills they utilize in their daily lives to support themselves and their families.
    • Family-Teacher Conferences-make sure to listen as much as your share about the child you are discussing. Take the opportunity to ask questions about the child’s experiences at home, such as favorite activities, foods, family members, and find out how the family engages in educational activities outside of the early learning program.
    • Family Survey Follow Up-if you do a “getting to know you survey” at the beginning of the year, don’t put it in a drawer. Follow up on some of the responses to build relationships and learn more about the families in your program.
    • Recognize Strengths: Tell a parent/caregiver when you see them doing something really well and figure out ways to integrate it into your program. For example:  If one parent packs amazing lunches, ask him/her to share her tips with other parents.  If another parent is always on time, recognize and applaud that. Ask more about their morning routines that might be useful to share.
    • Home Visits-there is no better way to learn about a family than by seeing them in their own home. Just a 30 minute visit will help you build a relationship and learn more about the children and families you serve, their experiences and their expertise.

 

Remember, it is the quality of time that you spend while creating trusting relationships and sharing of information that is most important.  Taking the time to identify the funds of knowledge in the families you serve will go a long way to improving the relationships and engagement in your program as well as helping you to fully supporting the children in your class. 

 

Interested in putting this concept into practice?  Here is an activity that you can do with teaching staff or with families:  http://modules.nceln.fpg.unc.edu/sites/modules.nceln.fpg.unc.edu/files/foundations/handouts/Mod%204%20Funds%20of%20knowledge.pdf

 

Check out our other family engagement tips

 

Additional resources:

https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/video/funds-knowledge-video

 

References

Global Family Research Project. (2019, April 01). Funds of knowledge. Retrieved January 31, 2020, from https://medium.com/familyengagementplaybook/gfrp-funds-of-knowledge-4d193579c60f

Moll, L. C., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & Gonzalez, N. (1992). Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms. Theory Into Practice, 31(2), 132-141. doi:10.1080/00405849209543534

Sebolt, S. (2018). Capitalizing on funds of knowledge to support family engagement. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 54(3), 130-134. doi:10.1080/00228958.2018.1481660


Monthly Family Engagement Tips

May 13, 2020 11:58AM

Working with children and families means that, at any given time, at least one, usually more, are experiencing a crisis situation.  Whether families experience the unexpected loss of employment, a sudden sickness in the family, or have to shift into quarantine during an international pandemic, they are constantly needing to adapt to and navigate these life challengesRead More

April 10, 2020 8:13AM

The past month has put everyone’s tech skills to the test.  Within a matter of weeks, many of us have gone from seeing families at drop off and pick up daily to having minimal, if any, interactions with the families that we serve.  We have gone from planning in-person conferences, cafés, and other events, to trying to figure out how to best connect with families during this time of being socially distanced… Read More

March 3, 2020 11:32AM

A couple of years ago, I attended a 2-day Strengthening Families Training of Trainers Institute.  This training was designed to build an understanding of the 5 Protective Factors, as well as get us, as trainers, to develop a sense of understanding and empathy for the diverse lives of the families that we work with.  Through a variety of interactive activities, videos, and group discussions, we developed a deeper understanding of “what it means to be a parent” and how critical our role is in supporting the journey of parenthood for those we worked with… Read More

February 1, 2020

Last month, we discussed family engagement as an issue of equity and social justice.  Family engagement is not a practice of one-size-fits-all “Back to School” nights and literacy events. This month, we focus on understanding the importance of accessing the funds of knowledge that each family carries with them… Read More

January 2, 2020

The start of a new decade is the perfect time to reflect upon our regular work with families through a renewed equity lens.  Equity is a concept that is integral to the work of early learning professionals and programs.  Not only does equity impact the work that early learning professionals do daily with young children in the classroom, but it also plays a key role in the relationships that we build with families… Read More


Family Engagement Monthly Tip-April 2020

 

Building Relationships with Families in the Digital Age

 

April 10, 2020 8:32AM

The past month has put everyone’s tech skills to the test.  Within a matter of weeks, many of us have gone from seeing families at drop off and pick up daily to having minimal, if any, interactions with the families that we serve.  We have gone from planning in-person conferences, cafés, and other events, to trying to figure out how to best connect with families during this time of being socially distanced.

This month, we will be exploring the ways in which technology can enhance the way you build relationships with families.  Technology is a tool that can support your interactions with the families in your program.  Not only do different technology platforms offer you an opportunity to reach more families than you might through in-person interactions, they also give families the chance to learn more about the work that you do with their children at a pace that best meets their individual needs.  They key is to understand the families that you work with, their capacity related to technology, and your capacity to use tech based on your current knowledge,experience, and workload.

It can seem daunting to think about the wide variety of different options and programs available related to digital communications.  Such programs range from easy to use text messaging apps (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, SlickText) to sending mass emails (Constant Contact, Mail Chimp) to the more elaborate, and sometimes fee-based, family engagement software (click the infographic for sample options and links to each software).  The platform that you choose to use in your program depends on your interest, need, capacity, and budget.  The key to successful integration of tech opportunities is to find the best fit for you, your families, and your program.

Promoting Equity with Technology

Remember:  Technology is a tool to supplement your communications with families, not replace them.  When used with care and intentionality, the technology platform that you choose should provide a new level of reach, access, and support to families that might not be achieved otherwise.

In this digital age, technology has become part of the fabric in which we live our lives.  Families seek out opportunities to introduce tablets, iPads, and other digital devices into their children’s learning early and often.  Schools are introducing media literacy at an early age.  As a professional field, it might seem like there is no way to avoid integrating digital communications into the way in which we serve children and families.  However, as you think about the ways in which technology can enhance your work, it is important to consider the following:

  • Not all families have access to the internet outside of their cell phones. The digital divide is a very real issue when it comes to the integration of technology into your program communications.  As you are considering what platforms to use, you may want to survey the families that you serve to better understand the level of access they have to the internet.  This first-hand information will help you make better decisions about the technology you choose.
  • Equitable use of technology should focus entirely on supporting children and families. Focusing on the needs of the families in your program should drive your efforts to identify a digital platform that best supports their engagement with your program and their child’s early education.  When you are family-focused in your search for the correct program or platform, families feel included and are more willing to engage and provide support.

“To effectively communicate with families, ECE providers need to learn how to use – and embrace the use of – all of the ‘new’ communication channels through which parents can be reached” (Daugherty, Dossani, Johnson, & Wright, 2014)

The use of technology can support your program to engage with families in ways that you might not have the capacity to do currently, thus making your program more equitable.  The use of technology:

  • Creates opportunities for you to communicate with families across language barriers. Websites like Google Translate and Skype Translator support translation into a variety of different languages.
  • Allows more families to engage on their own time, at their own pace, and based on their own level of comfort. Not every family has the time to be physically present for conferences, meetings, and events because of their work schedule or other commitments.  This doesn’t mean that they aren’t interested in being present.  Using apps like Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Skype allow families to join the conversation from afar, as well as allow families to schedule meetings with you in the middle of their busy days.
  • Acknowledges the unique abilities, capacities, and preferences of the families you serve. Part of being equitable is recognizing that every family can thrive when offered a variety of different types of support and ways to engage.  Using technology allows you to connect with each family individually and creates a greater personal connection that can lead greater overall support for the child.

Strategies for Introducing Technology into your Family Engagement Work

Venturing into the world of technology can seem daunting.  There are so many options to choose from, all of which vary in price and features.  Here are some strategies to assist you as you begin exploring the use of different platforms to communicate with families:

Assess Your Current Capacity

Click image above for PDF version.

Before you begin learning about platforms, you want to have a solid understanding of what you are looking for and what you have the capacity to use.   These questions will help you start to think about what will best meet your needs.

  • Do you and/or your staff have a computer and a stable internet connection at home or at the program? Are you looking to download an app on your phone?
  • How much time are you willing and able to invest in online communication?
  • Do you have a budget for using an on-line platform or are you looking for a free version?

Gather Information  

  • Do your research and learn about the specifics of each of the programs that you are interested in using.
  • Learn about features, pricing, and support options available, such as tutorials on their websites, or virtual representatives to walk you through the process of using their software.
  • Ask around and see if someone you know has any knowledge or experiences that they can share with you about the platforms that you are most interested in.
  • Once you have enough information, identify a platform that you are interested in using based on your previously identified preferences and capacity.

Create open lines of communication  

  • Schedule opportunities with families to help them learn how to use the new platform. You can do this by e-mailing instructions, hosting in-person meetings (as appropriate) or scheduling virtual sessions/phone calls to help families get started with the new platform. The technology is only helpful if people feel comfortable and are willing to use it.
  • Make sure that you clearly communicate with families what they can expect through the use of this new platform. Let families know how you will use it to support them and their child, as well as how they can use this platform to communicate with you.
  • Continue to practice face-to-face communication with families whenever possible.  Adopting new programs can take some time to get used to.  Check in periodically with families as to how they are liking the new platform so that you can get a sense of how this shift is working.

Opportunities for Sustainable Use of Technology

Although this monthly tip is intended to provide family engagement support during the current international health crisis, it is one that should continue to be part of your regular family engagement toolbox. Here are some ways that you can sustain the use of technology as a regular part of your program, now and in the future, as applicable:

  • Offer families the opportunity to attend parent-teacher conferences virtually, in addition to hosting conferences in person.
  • Host a twitter chat for families
  • Create a closed Facebook group for families in your program
  • Host virtual field trips that families can “attend” with their children at home
  • Live stream a story time for your families
  • Host a parent meeting via Zoom or Skype
  • Share resources to all families or child specific pictures or updates via text, email, or other app mentioned previously.

The opportunities for integrating the use of technology into your everyday programming are endless.  Although venturing into the world of digital communication can be challenging and intimidating, it can also be very rewarding for the families that are now able to access opportunities and engage with their child’s education that they otherwise would not have had the chance to.

Check out our other Family Engagement Tips

Check out the webinar on this Family Engagement Tip!

Resources & Additional Information

References

Daugherty, L., Dossani, R., Johnson, E., & Wright, C. (2014). Families, powered on: Improving family engagement in early childhood education through technology (Issue brief). Retrieved from www.rand.org/t-is-for-technology

Noonoo, Stephen. (2020). Equity isn’t just about technology. It’s about supporting students and families. Retrieved from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2020-03-26-equity-isn-t-just-about-technology-it-s-about-supporting-students-and-families?utm_source=NCFL+Literacy+NOW&utm_campaign=8b3d246c7c-4.3.2020&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ddbeaff477-8b3d246c7c-68301609

Patrikakou, E. N. (2016). Parent involvement, technology, and media: Now what? School Community Journal, 26(2), 9-24. Retrieved from http://www.schoolcommunitynetwork.org/SCJ.aspx

 

 

 

 

Wendolly’s professional career began over 10 years ago as a lead teacher for a classroom of energetic preschoolers. In her current role, Wendolly is proud to support Quality Start Los Angeles by being an advocate for building authentic and supportive relationships with families of young children. She believes that by creating family-focused systems, early learning programs have the capacity to uplift and empower families and ensure the best outcomes for LA’s youngest learners.

Wendolly A. Escobar, M.S., M.Ed., Ed.D
Family Education Coordinator
Quality Start Los Angeles

Coronavirus Resources for Early Educators

While many early learning programs are closing, QSLA wants to make sure that early education professionals have access to high quality resources to support their health, safety, and on-going learning during these closures.  See our growing list of resources below!

Follow our QSLA Facebook and Twitter accounts for daily resources and updates!

Looking for resources to share with the families that you serve, click here!

For QSLA Participants:

For All Early Educators:

Training and Professional Development Resources

Click the image above to download the PDF with clickable links
  • Sesame Street in Communities: Sesame Street offers a variety of FREE resources, training videos, and webinars for early educators focusing topics such as health and nutrition, early literacy, to trauma and other sensitive topics. (Click “provider” in top left to access educator resources)
  • Sesame Street en las Comunidades
  • FREE Conscious Discipline Resources: Conscious Discipline has made many of their valuable resources and trainings FREE to families and educators in response to the coronavirus.  Check them out today to support the social emotional health of the children in your life.
  • Brookes Publishing FREE Covid 19 Resources for Early Educators: Brookes has compiled a growing list of free resources from blog posts to webinars, these expert resources will help you support young children and families and continue your professional development while you’re staying safe at home.

Guidance and Support for Early Educators:

Covid-19 (Coronavirus) Community Resources:

 

Social Emotional Resources for Talking to Children

 

  • How to Talk To Young Children About Coronavirus: This article offers great tips for helping navigate conversations with young children about Coronavirus in clear, but not overwhelming, ways that are appropriate for young children.
  • PBSkids for Parents: How to Talk to Your Kids about Coronavirus:  PBSkids for Parents has created a great article full of tips for talking with kids about Coronavirus to ensure their feelings and emotions are addressed as well as resources for handwashing and other health and safety routines.
  • Conscious Discipline: 5 Helpful Responses for Families:  Safety is the brain’s most basic need, followed closely by connection. When we feel unsafe or disconnected, our brains downshift from the parts responsible for learning and problem solving, to the more reaction-based parts. That’s why those challenging behaviors are popping up, and why a minor frustration is now Titanic in size.  We can help children (and ourselves) by creating a sense of safety, connecting, and cultivating a new sense of normal with these five tips.

Coronavirus Resources For Families

 

While many early learning programs are closing, QSLA wants to make sure that families of young learners have access to high quality resources to support their health, safety, and on-going learning during these closures.  See our growing list of resources below!

Follow our QSLA Facebook and Twitter accounts for daily resources and updates!

Are you an early educator, looking for resources to support your needs as a professional? Click here!

On-line Learning Websites:

Click the image below to download the PDF version with clickable links!

Additional Activity Resources:

  • QSLA Activity Guides:  These activity guides feature several different early learning activities to build self-esteem and encourage learning.
  • Sesame Street in Communities: Sesame Street offers a variety of FREE resources for early educators and families focusing topics such as health and nutrition, early literacy, to trauma and other sensitive topics.
  • Sesame Street en las Comunidades
  • Cincinnati Zoo-Home Safari:Check out the Home Safari from the Cincinnati Zoo! They go live on Facebook every day at 12 pm (PST), showcase one of their amazing animals and give viewers a fun at-home activity to do. Videos are also posted on their website.
  • At Home Activities from Discount School Supplies: Check out this list of free STEM and creativity based activities for young children.
  • Bright by Text:  PBS SoCal is now offering Bright by Text, a FREE messaging program for parents and caregivers with children ages 0-8 years old that includes research-based content from Bright by Text, PBS KIDS, Vroom and Sesame Street. Activities and info are available in both English and Spanish. 
  • PBS Kids Daily Newsletter: Sign up for this newsletter which offers activities and tips you can use to help kids play and learn at home.

Additional Literacy/Reading Resources:

Coronavirus Community Resources:

Talking to Kids about the Coronavirus:

  • How to Talk To Young Children About Coronavirus: This article offers great tips for helping navigate conversations with young children about Coronavirus in clear, but not overwhelming, ways that are appropriate for young children.
  • PBSkids for Parents: How to Talk to Your Kids about Coronavirus:  PBSkids for Parents has created a great article full of tips for talking with kids about Coronavirus to ensure their feelings and emotions are addressed as well as resources for handwashing and other health and safety routines.
  • Conscious Discipline: 5 Helpful Responses for Families:  Safety is the brain’s most basic need, followed closely by connection. When we feel unsafe or disconnected, our brains downshift from the parts responsible for learning and problem solving, to the more reaction-based parts. That’s why those challenging behaviors are popping up, and why a minor frustration is now Titanic in size.  We can help children (and ourselves) by creating a sense of safety, connecting, and cultivating a new sense of normal with these five tips.

 

 


QSLA Provider Discounts

 

QSLA Provider Discounts

As a result of the generous support by numerous early learning vendors, QSLA is able to offer you the discount codes below to help you maximize the use of your QSLA incentive funds.

 

Click the flyers below to access the PDF version and direct links to the vendors.