Monthly Family Engagement Tips

September 23rd, 2021, 3:50pm

Today, many families are made up of LGBTQ+ parents, single parents, separated/divorced parents, stepfamily members, multiethnic family members, foster/adoptive family members, multigenerational families, biological guardians, etc. What hasn’t changed is the importance of families. Yet, how can we ensure that our early learning programs are valuing and including families with an array of diverse structures?  

This month, we continue the conversation on diversity by focusing on diverse family structures and how we can work alongside families to reflect on, prepare for, and create a welcoming environment for all families. Read More.

August 23rd, 2021, 8:36am

Our culture can shape how we view ourselves, our surroundings, and our place in the world.  We are often most comfortable in the cultures where we grow up and feel most accepted by those whose cultures are most similar to our own.

In previous Family Partnerships tips, we discussed ways to gather information about families to support our programs. Some of that information helps us learn more about the languages, cultures, and customs of the families we serve. This month we will focus on how learning about families’ race, ethnicity, & culture, can strengthen our partnerships with families and improve implementation of culturally inclusive practices in our early learning programs. Read More.

June 28th, 2021, 7:19pm

As we transition into summer, many of us are reflecting on the past year and how we supported our families. What strategies did we use and how effective were they? How did we collaborate with families for mutual support? What did we learn from our family engagement practices? As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. Last month we tuned into a key aspect of family partnerships, specifically gathering feedback from families to build stronger programs.

This month we focus on bringing a strengths-based approach to our family needs assessments. We will discuss what a strengths-based mindset looks like in family partnerships, key factors to consider, and what strategies and tools can support this process. Read More.

May 28th, 2021, 3:19pm

Many of us have seen this pandemic as a time to reevaluate our lifestyles and our work. With blurred boundaries between work and home, a sense of mutual support, understanding, and empathy is key for providers in moving forward with family engagement.

As we continue exploring what family engagement can look like, we have a chance to tap into the voices and strengths of the families we work with to simultaneously improve our program quality and bolster relationships with families. Each family has their own funds of knowledge; these consist of the everyday knowledge and skills that contribute to the overall success of the family, which are passed down from generation to generation. This knowledge comes from life experiences, particularly relevant information to their location, culture, local norms, and social groups. Read More.

May 3rd, 2021, 12:15pm

As LA County continues on a path to re-opening, more families of young children will be heading back to work and the need for childcare will increase. We will see more child care programs re-opening and those who stayed open will be seeing an influx of children.  While this return to more normalcy is great news, we also need to be mindful of how this transition will impact children and families emotionally and logistically. 

We are excited to co-author this month’s Family Engagement tip with our expert colleagues at the Child Care Bridge Program! The Child Care Bridge Program provides families of foster children ages birth-5 years with emergency access to affordable child care and prepares and supports providers to work with these children in ways that are trauma-informed. Read More.

March 22nd, 2021, 12:15pm

Did you know: early math skills are one of the best predictors of children’s math and reading skills in late elementary school? Children with strong early math skills are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college based on Mattera and Morris’s 2017 study. Yet, many people, including ourselves and the families we serve, often have negative mindsets when it comes to math.  We frequently hear statements such as, “math is hard”, “young children must sit down to learn math”, “I had trouble with math when I was a kid, so I won’t be much help to my child.”

As early educators we can challenge these ideas by highlighting for families how early math is not just counting, but part of our everyday lives. Read More

February 23, 2021, 6:21pm

Did you know: Newborn babies have about 100 billion neurons? By the time they are 3 years old, babies have about 1,000 trillion connections between those neurons. The first three years of a child’s life are the most critical for speech and language development because this critical growth stage is when their brain is best able to absorb language.  

Research shows that reading, talking, and singing with children are the most important activities that families and early educators can do to support children’s early literacy skills. Read More

January 27, 2021, 12:54pm

As we start out this new year, we find ourselves worn out from the emotional toll that 2020 brought. A pandemic, financial challenges, social distancing, a difficult election, a racial reckoning – it was a hard year to say the least. As we all try to manage the highs and lows of this prolonged crisis and stress, we seek out ways to find balance and bring about any sense of peace and normalcy, for a few minutes or a few hours, amid the everyday stressors.  This is where mindfulness can help us and the families that we serve… Read More

December 15, 2020, 11:11am

Back in May, we looked at the Strengthening Families Framework and its relation to our Family Engagement work. As you may recall, it is grounded in taking a strengths-based approach to working with families, where relationship-building is intentional and based on trust. A key component is the idea of approaching family engagement with collaboration in mind, working together towards reaching a mutual set of goals that support the long-term success of our children and families… Read More

August 12, 2020 3:18PM

I love to go shopping.  Not only do I enjoy the satisfaction of finding exactly what I am looking for, but I also value the shopping experience.  Part of that experience is the environment that stores create for myself, the shopper. 

The families in your programs are like shoppers.  Not only are families looking for a high-quality program with staff that care for and teach their children, but they are also looking for a program environment that is clean, safe, and inviting… Read More

July 17, 2020 2:37PM

Traditionally, relationships with families have been built through consistent face-to-face interactions.  The more you saw the family and spent time engaging with them in both formal and informal conversations, the more you learned about the child and the stronger the relationship with the family was.  This upcoming school year, however, the way program staff builds relationships with families will look very different… Read More

June 3, 2020 2:25PM

As we close out an uncharted program year, there is a lot of uncertainty about what the upcoming year will bring.  This month, we will be exploring best practices for hosting virtual events for the families in your program. As families continue to navigate through the different challenges brought on by this pandemic, we want to continue to offer opportunities to connect socially, receive information and resources, and build their capacity to support their children’s growth and development… Read More

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