Engaging Parents and Families to Support the Recovery of Districts and Schools

Nancy Hill | Harvard University
Latoya Gayle | Boston School Finder

Breaking Down the Issue

  • Schools are demanding more than ever from parents even as parents lack specific guidance and supports from schools to meet many of the demands.
  • The disruption of ongoing school routines is already having detrimental effects on families while limiting access to mental health and wellness services.
  • Legacies of discrimination and marginalization in schools and inequities in access to highquality education undermine trust in ways that shape the possibilities for family engagement.

Strategies to Consider

  • Communications with families are most effective when they are regular, well-timed, and include actionable support strategies.
  • Schools will be more successful involving parents in academics when the asks focus on helping students establish good work habits and time management rather than supplementing instruction or academic content.
  • Schools must ensure genuine representation across parental communities to promote authentic engagement.
  • Schools can reduce family anxiety by providing a sense of routine for students and families. Older students benefit from a role in shaping these routines.

Strategies to Avoid

  • Lowering academic standards and workload with the goal of helping families balance students’ broader socioemotional needs is unlikely to reduce parental anxiety.
  • Communication strategies that wait until the end of the quarter or semester are unlikely to shift parent or student behavior.