Effective communication is central to building strong relationships between schools and the families they serve.

Click on a grade level below to find resources with suggestions for communicating with families, including those whose home language is not English and those whose children have special needs.

Preschool and Kindergarten

Articles

Videos / webinars

  • ABCs of Parent Involvement
    This video shows innovative family engagement practices in a Pre-K – 12 program, and includes interviews with school personnel and parents.
    The Teaching Channel
  • Best Practices in Family and Community Engagement
    This collection of videos from the Office of Head Start covers a range of topics related to program/family relationships in the early years.
    Office of Head Start
  • Engaging Families in the Assessment Process and the Use of Data: An Early Childhood Example
    This webinar examines strategies for promoting the effective use of early childhood assessment data in several contexts (classroom, program, agency), with a focus on sharing and using the data with families.
    (2014) REL Southwest
  • Engaging Teen Parents: Lessons from Teens about What Works for Them
    This video (with transcript) about Head Start and Early Head Start provisions offers ideas to enhance program relationships with adolescent parents.
    (2014) Office of Head Start
  • Family Engagement Webinar for School and Districts
    This Webinar from the Illinois State Board of Education is intended to build a common understanding of what is needed for family engagement that promotes student learning and healthy development.
    (2016) ISBE
  • Program Environment: Responsive Programming for Migrant Families
    Testimonials from parents and educators show the importance of early childhood programming that is responsive to the needs and interests of primarily Latino migrant workers.
    (2014) Office of Head Start
  • Resource Library: Video, Family
    This page links to several CONNECT Module videos related to professional-family communication. Included are samples of real conversations from the beginning and later stages of a teacher-parent relationship.
    Center to Mobilize Early Childhood Knowledge
  • School Community: Communication
    In this set of professional development video clips, educators describe a comprehensive approach to effective communication with families about roles and expectations.
    (2013) Academic Development Institute
  • School Community: Connection
    These professional development video clips focus on strategies that enhance relationships within a school community, including activities that bring families together.
    (2013) Academic Development Institute
  • School Community: Education
    These professional development video clips address systematic ways that schools can be involved in parent education to promote students’ school success.
    (2013) Academic Development Institute

Podcasts

Websites

  • Family and Community Involvement in Student Learning
    This Web page provides brief descriptions and links to Webinars and other resources produced by SEDL for professionals involved in efforts to engage families with their children’s schools.
    SEDL
  • Family Engagement in Illinois
    This ISBE Web site has links to the Illinois Family Engagement Framework Guide and related resources for educators and administrators.
    (2016) Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)
  • National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement
    This Website is a portal to a wide range of information about family and community involvement in Head Start and Early Head Start programs.
    Office of Head Start
  • Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit
    This Web page has links to multiple NPTA resources that can assist school personnel in engaging families, including resources about military families and urban families.
    National PTA (NPTA)
  • National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families
    Hispanics represent the largest and one of the fastest-growing minority population subgroups in the U.S. To help programs and policies better serve low-income Hispanic children and families, Child Trends and Abt Associates, together with university partners, launched the National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families.
    (2017) U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

Modules

  • Communication for Collaboration
    This multimedia CONNECT module uses a problem-based approach to communication between early childhood professionals and families. Specific practices are described and recommended for particular situations, including active listening, seeking, and verifying.
    Center to Mobilize Early Childhood Knowledge
  • Family Connections Training Modules
    These four modules focus on ways that early childhood program staff can support mental health while engaging families in their programs.
    Office of Head Start
  • Family-Professional Partnerships
    This multimedia CONNECT Module takes a problem-based approach to helping early childhood professionals learn effective practices for building relationships with families.
    Center to Mobilize Early Childhood Knowledge
  • Reaching Out to Hispanic Parents of English Language Learners
    This “toolkit” describes recommended practices for educators, and includes detailed suggestions for 5 literacy-related family workshops, handouts in English and Spanish to give families, and lists of recommended children’s books.
    (2012) Colorin Colorado
  • Refugee and Immigrant Family Engagement in the Schools
    Using the National PTA Standards for family involvement as a framework, this training module covers key issues in and optimal practices for engaging refugee and immigrant families with their children’s schools.
    Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services (BRYCS)
  • School Community Network Family Engagement Tool
    This web-based tool can assist school teams in assessing all aspects of their family engagement programs and practices.
    (2012) Academic Development Institute
Elementary School

Articles

Videos / webinars

  • ABCs of Parent Involvement
    This video shows innovative family engagement practices in a Pre-K – 12 program, and includes interviews with school personnel and parents.
    The Teaching Channel
  • Family Engagement Webinar for School and Districts
    This Webinar from the Illinois State Board of Education is intended to build a common understanding of what is needed for family engagement that promotes student learning and healthy development.
    (2016) ISBE
  • Homework Practices and Communication with Parents
    In this set of professional development video clips, educators discuss effective practices in communicating with families
    (2013) Academic Development Institute
  • New Teacher Survival Guide: The Parent-Teacher Conference
    Clips show an educator’s preparation for a parent-teacher conference, parts of the conference itself, and the educator’s debriefing with a mentor; key points are summarized.
    The Teaching Channel
  • School Community: Communication
    In this set of professional development video clips, educators describe a comprehensive approach to effective communication with families about roles and expectations.
    (2013) Academic Development Institute
  • School Community: Connection
    These professional development video clips focus on strategies that enhance relationships within a school community, including activities that bring families together.
    (2013) Academic Development Institute
  • School Community: Education
    These professional development video clips address systematic ways that schools can be involved in parent education to promote students’ school success.
    (2013) Academic Development Institute

Podcasts

Websites

  • Family and Community Involvement in Student Learning
    This Web page provides brief descriptions and links to Webinars and other resources produced by SEDL for professionals involved in efforts to engage families with their children’s schools.
    SEDL
  • Family Engagement in Illinois
    This ISBE Web site has links to the Illinois Family Engagement Framework Guide and related resources for educators and administrators.
    (2016) Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)
  • Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit
    This Web page has links to multiple NPTA resources that can assist school personnel in engaging families, including resources about military families and urban families.
    National PTA (NPTA)
  • National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families
    Hispanics represent the largest and one of the fastest-growing minority population subgroups in the U.S. To help programs and policies better serve low-income Hispanic children and families, Child Trends and Abt Associates, together with university partners, launched the National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families.
    (2017) U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

Modules

  • Reaching Out to Hispanic Parents of English Language Learners
    This “toolkit” describes recommended practices for educators, and includes detailed suggestions for 5 literacy-related family workshops, handouts in English and Spanish to give families, and lists of recommended children’s books.
    (2012) Colorin Colorado
  • Refugee and Immigrant Family Engagement in the Schools
    Using the National PTA Standards for family involvement as a framework, this training module covers key issues in and optimal practices for engaging refugee and immigrant families with their children’s schools.
    Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services (BRYCS)
  • School Community Network Family Engagement Tool
    This web-based tool can assist school teams in assessing all aspects of their family engagement programs and practices.
    (2012) Academic Development Institute
Middle School

Articles

  • 11 Ideas for Better Communication with Parents
    This article provides recommendations from writers of parenting blogs about types of home-school collaboration that they have found especially effective.
    (2014) National Education Association
  • 9 Reminders and Tips for Back-to-School Night
    A teacher describes back-to-school night practices that she has found can help create rapport while informing families about what to expect during the school year.
    (2014) The Teaching Channel
  • ABCs of Male Involvement
    This article presents several effective strategies for engaging men in school-related decision-making, particularly for involving them in PTA.
    National PTA (NPTA)
  • Beyond Parent-Teacher Conferences: Building Connections That Last
    An educator shares hints for communicating with families during conferences and throughout the year.
    (2013) The Teaching Channel
  • Building Parent Leadership
    This manual for school personnel addresses benefits of parent leadership, a variety of potential leadership roles for parents, and effective ways to engage parents in leadership positions.
    (2013) Georgia Department of Education
  • Emailing Parents: How to Avoid Unintended Consequences
    The author provides tips for productive email correspondence with families, with concrete examples of effective email messages for challenging situations.
    (2014) The Teaching Channel
  • Family Engagement Within Schoolwide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports
    This article presents a framework for systematic family engagement in the context of school-wide Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS), with the goal of enhancing support for students across settings.
    (2016) Preventing School Failure Journal
  • Handbook on Family and Community Engagement
    This collection of brief papers covers a wide range of topics related to family and community engagement, including the “curriculum of the home,” parents as leaders, and students’ readiness for college and career.
    (2011) Academic Development Institute
  • How Can High-Poverty Schools Engage Families and the Community?
    The authors discuss a range of issues related to high-poverty schools and family/community engagement, and describe some promising practices for enhancing how such schools engage families and their communities.
    (2016) Edutopia
  • Illinois Family Engagement Framework Guide
    This guide is meant to be a resource for Illinois school and district leaders, as well as families, to use in planning, implementing, and evaluating family engagement practices.
    (2016) Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)
  • Illinois Family Engagement Standards for Effective Practice
    The four main standards for effective family engagement practice are linked here to more detailed descriptions to assist with planning and implementation.
    (2015) Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)
  • Improving Family and Community Engagement Through Sharing Data
    This briefing paper focuses on general strategies and approaches to improve the sharing of data with family and community to foster improved engagement, with some specific suggestions for ways to disseminate information to families and other stakeholders.
    (2012) Southeast Comprehensive Center (SECC)
  • Involving Refugee Parents in Their Children’s Education
    This article addresses cultural, language/literacy, and logistical considerations often encountered by school staff when working with refugee families, and suggests optimal practices for engaging the families in their children’s schooling.
    (2007) Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services (BRYCS)
  • Parent-Teacher Conferences
    This article offers some step-by-step suggestions for educators about conducting productive, engaging conferences with families. Link to audio version at top of article.
    (2013) Kidshealth
  • Parental Involvement in Schools
    This paper summarizes data from recent research on parent involvement in children’s schooling.
    (2013) Child Trends
  • PTA National Standards for Family-School Partnerships
    NPTA’s standards, based on research into family involvement, are a useful resources for school personnel as they design and evaluate efforts to engage families.
    (2009) National PTA (NPTA)
  • Teacher Tips for Successful Parent-Teacher Conferences
    Several experienced educators offer suggestions for effective parent-teacher conferences.
    Scholastic Teacher

Videos / webinars

  • ABCs of Parent Involvement
    This video shows innovative family engagement practices in a Pre-K – 12 program, and includes interviews with school personnel and parents.
    The Teaching Channel
  • Family Engagement Webinar for School and Districts
    This Webinar from the Illinois State Board of Education is intended to build a common understanding of what is needed for family engagement that promotes student learning and healthy development.
    (2016) ISBE
  • Homework Practices and Communication with Parents
    In this set of professional development video clips, educators discuss effective practices in communicating with families
    (2013) Academic Development Institute
  • New Teacher Survival Guide: The Parent-Teacher Conference
    Clips show an educator’s preparation for a parent-teacher conference, parts of the conference itself, and the educator’s debriefing with a mentor; key points are summarized.
    The Teaching Channel
  • School Community: Communication
    In this set of professional development video clips, educators describe a comprehensive approach to effective communication with families about roles and expectations.
    (2013) Academic Development Institute
  • School Community: Connection
    These professional development video clips focus on strategies that enhance relationships within a school community, including activities that bring families together.
    (2013) Academic Development Institute
  • School Community: Education
    These professional development video clips address systematic ways that schools can be involved in parent education to promote students’ school success.
    (2013) Academic Development Institute

Podcasts

Websites

  • Family and Community Involvement in Student Learning
    This Web page provides brief descriptions and links to Webinars and other resources produced by SEDL for professionals involved in efforts to engage families with their children’s schools.
    SEDL
  • Family Engagement in Illinois
    This ISBE Web site has links to the Illinois Family Engagement Framework Guide and related resources for educators and administrators.
    (2016) Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)
  • Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit
    This Web page has links to multiple NPTA resources that can assist school personnel in engaging families, including resources about military families and urban families.
    National PTA (NPTA)
  • National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families
    Hispanics represent the largest and one of the fastest-growing minority population subgroups in the U.S. To help programs and policies better serve low-income Hispanic children and families, Child Trends and Abt Associates, together with university partners, launched the National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families.
    (2017) U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

Modules

  • Refugee and Immigrant Family Engagement in the Schools
    Using the National PTA Standards for family involvement as a framework, this training module covers key issues in and optimal practices for engaging refugee and immigrant families with their children’s schools.
    Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services (BRYCS)
  • School Community Network Family Engagement Tool
    This web-based tool can assist school teams in assessing all aspects of their family engagement programs and practices.
    (2012) Academic Development Institute
High School

Articles

  • 11 Ideas for Better Communication with Parents
    This article provides recommendations from writers of parenting blogs about types of home-school collaboration that they have found especially effective.
    (2014) National Education Association
  • 9 Reminders and Tips for Back-to-School Night
    A teacher describes back-to-school night practices that she has found can help create rapport while informing families about what to expect during the school year.
    (2014) The Teaching Channel
  • ABCs of Male Involvement
    This article presents several effective strategies for engaging men in school-related decision-making, particularly for involving them in PTA.
    National PTA (NPTA)
  • Building Parent Leadership
    This manual for school personnel addresses benefits of parent leadership, a variety of potential leadership roles for parents, and effective ways to engage parents in leadership positions.
    (2013) Georgia Department of Education
  • Emailing Parents: How to Avoid Unintended Consequences
    The author provides tips for productive email correspondence with families, with concrete examples of effective email messages for challenging situations.
    (2014) The Teaching Channel
  • Family Engagement Within Schoolwide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports
    This article presents a framework for systematic family engagement in the context of school-wide Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS), with the goal of enhancing support for students across settings.
    (2016) Preventing School Failure Journal
  • Handbook on Family and Community Engagement
    This collection of brief papers covers a wide range of topics related to family and community engagement, including the “curriculum of the home,” parents as leaders, and students’ readiness for college and career.
    (2011) Academic Development Institute
  • How Can High-Poverty Schools Engage Families and the Community?
    The authors discuss a range of issues related to high-poverty schools and family/community engagement, and describe some promising practices for enhancing how such schools engage families and their communities.
    (2016) Edutopia
  • Illinois Family Engagement Framework Guide
    This guide is meant to be a resource for Illinois school and district leaders, as well as families, to use in planning, implementing, and evaluating family engagement practices.
    (2016) Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)
  • Illinois Family Engagement Standards for Effective Practice
    The four main standards for effective family engagement practice are linked here to more detailed descriptions to assist with planning and implementation.
    (2015) Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)
  • Improving Family and Community Engagement Through Sharing Data
    This briefing paper focuses on general strategies and approaches to improve the sharing of data with family and community to foster improved engagement, with some specific suggestions for ways to disseminate information to families and other stakeholders.
    (2012) Southeast Comprehensive Center (SECC)
  • Involving Refugee Parents in Their Children’s Education
    This article addresses cultural, language/literacy, and logistical considerations often encountered by school staff when working with refugee families, and suggests optimal practices for engaging the families in their children’s schooling.
    (2007) Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services (BRYCS)
  • Parent and Community Involvement in a College/Career–Ready Culture
    This resource addresses factors involved in engaging families in college/career decision-making with high school students, and briefly describes some promising practices.
    (2010) SEDL
  • Parental Involvement in Schools
    This paper summarizes data from recent research on parent involvement in children’s schooling.
    (2013) Child Trends
  • PTA National Standards for Family-School Partnerships
    NPTA’s standards, based on research into family involvement, are a useful resources for school personnel as they design and evaluate efforts to engage families.
    (2009) National PTA (NPTA)

Videos / webinars

  • ABCs of Parent Involvement
    This video shows innovative family engagement practices in a Pre-K – 12 program, and includes interviews with school personnel and parents.
    The Teaching Channel
  • Family Engagement Webinar for School and Districts
    This Webinar from the Illinois State Board of Education is intended to build a common understanding of what is needed for family engagement that promotes student learning and healthy development.
    (2016) ISBE
  • Homework Practices and Communication with Parents
    In this set of professional development video clips, educators discuss effective practices in communicating with families
    (2013) Academic Development Institute
  • New Teacher Survival Guide: The Parent-Teacher Conference
    Clips show an educator’s preparation for a parent-teacher conference, parts of the conference itself, and the educator’s debriefing with a mentor; key points are summarized.
    The Teaching Channel
  • School Community: Communication
    In this set of professional development video clips, educators describe a comprehensive approach to effective communication with families about roles and expectations.
    (2013) Academic Development Institute
  • School Community: Connection
    These professional development video clips focus on strategies that enhance relationships within a school community, including activities that bring families together.
    (2013) Academic Development Institute

Podcasts

Websites

  • Family and Community Involvement in Student Learning
    This Web page provides brief descriptions and links to Webinars and other resources produced by SEDL for professionals involved in efforts to engage families with their children’s schools.
    SEDL
  • Family Engagement in Illinois
    This ISBE Web site has links to the Illinois Family Engagement Framework Guide and related resources for educators and administrators.
    (2016) Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)
  • Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit
    This Web page has links to multiple NPTA resources that can assist school personnel in engaging families, including resources about military families and urban families.
    National PTA (NPTA)
  • National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families
    Hispanics represent the largest and one of the fastest-growing minority population subgroups in the U.S. To help programs and policies better serve low-income Hispanic children and families, Child Trends and Abt Associates, together with university partners, launched the National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families.
    (2017) U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

Modules

  • Refugee and Immigrant Family Engagement in the Schools
    Using the National PTA Standards for family involvement as a framework, this training module covers key issues in and optimal practices for engaging refugee and immigrant families with their children’s schools.
    Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services (BRYCS)
  • School Community Network Family Engagement Tool
    This web-based tool can assist school teams in assessing all aspects of their family engagement programs and practices.
    (2012) Academic Development Institute

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