The Definition: A Clear Consensus
The Design Team began with existing definitions of family engagement drawn from early childhood and elementary and secondary education organizations and programs. Throughout the many rounds of review and input, the message from parents, families, educators, policy makers and community members was increasingly clear and consistent:
Family Engagement is a full, equal, and equitable partnership among families, educators and community partners to promote children’s learning and development from birth through college and career.
At the symposium, participants voiced their ideas about the meaning of key words in the definition:
- Full means that families, educators and community partners collaborateclosely and consistently in promoting children’s learning and development. This includes making sure that ALL children not only have access to high quality learning opportunities, but also the supports they need to succeed.
- Equal means that families and educators recognize that both bring valuable knowledge to the table. Parents know their children, culture, and community. Educators are trained in curriculum and child development. Their deep knowledge and skills are complementary, overlapping, and essential to ensuring success for all children.
- Equitable means that families are empowered to work with educators, public officials, and community partners to remove systemic, structural, and organizational barriers that perpetuate inequities and injustice. This includes ready access to ample opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills to become full and equal partners in that deliberate and intentional work.
"Family engagement means that parents are seen as welcome partners in the education of children, and have a valued voice in the school. As a result, families are active participants, and communication is flowing between home and school. We believe that family engagement means mutual respect, honesty and trust." Connecticut Parents, August 2017