What if you could increase positivity in your students’ attitudes, improve their self-confidence, sense of importance and academic achievement while also decreasing problem behaviors and at-risk behaviors simply by enlisting a partner to share your load? Would you do it?

Research shows that engaging families authentically from birth to grade 12 can produce all of these outcomes (National PTA, 2005). Hesitating? What if enlisting this partner also gave you as an educator, greater job satisfaction, higher rates of school effectiveness? (Christenson, 1996). Authentically engaging families in their child’s education has been shown to produce outcomes such as these for decades. We as an educational system are not tapping into this opportunity nearly enough. We need to shift to doing things with the parent rather than to or for the parent.

“Family centeredness identifies beliefs and practices that are respectful, flexible, and responsive, and espouses the notion that families should be treated with dignity and completely informed so they can make choices about how to support their child.” (Dunst, 2002)

Within your MTSS framework, parent engagement can be accomplished throughout the tiers. At a tier 1 level, this Classroom Family Engagement Rubric can be a valuable resource for self-reflection to help prioritize and action plan areas of improvement.

At tiers two and three it is really all about enlisting families from the beginning planning stages. Often we make decisions outside of parent meetings so that at those meetings the decisions are presented to the parents. Instead, shift the intent of the parent meeting to one of collaboration and plan development and then consistent, regular communication after that initial meeting will be critical, particularly as student needs intensify.