As you learned in Part 1, successful home-school partnerships start with building positive and trusting relationships between staff and families. With this foundation in place, you can strengthen these partnerships through a community outreach program. You and your leadership team can plan events throughout the year to collaborate with families. Another goal of these events is to extend partnerships to other community members and organizations that support children’s language and pre-literacy development.
Your initial leadership team meeting provides an ideal opportunity to present ideas for outreach events and to brainstorm additional needs, opportunities, and resources. During the meeting, you can prepare an outline or a written draft showing the steps you will take to initiate your outreach program. You will need to think through the logistics of the outreach events you propose to conduct. You will need to decide when and where you can hold events and assign available team members to help with the planning and delivery of different events. Your team should also create a list of tasks that need to be completed before you have any events. Future meetings need to include time to check with your team about the status of their preparation for upcoming events.
For each outreach event, your team may also consider steps to follow up with families. One way to follow up after family events is to distribute surveys, checklists, or questionnaires to request ideas for additional outreach programs, resources, or school events the families would find helpful.
Remember, as you plan to distribute and collect information, you will need to review all content to make sure that the language is accessible to the families you serve. For written materials, avoid specialized language and keep your messages clear and direct. Use visuals in written materials whenever possible. When you meet with your team, identify school staff or community partners who can translate materials into other languages as needed for the families you serve. Finally, for face-to-face events, identify people who can translate what is being presented for those who speak a language other than English.
To promote literacy through family outreach activities, leadership teams can plan a variety of sessions featuring a range of content and areas of focus (see Lesson E6–Empowering parents and families in the Effective Instructional Framework module). When you are ready to hold each event, there are some important considerations for you and your team to take into account. This handout, “Strategies for Delivering Effective Outreach Events, ” guides you through some steps that can promote a successful event. The examples listed for each step are part of literacy training events that may be offered to families in many kinds of early childhood settings.
As you build relationships with families and the different stakeholders in your community, you expand support for the children you serve. In the next lesson of the Leadership module, you will learn more about identifying, recruiting, and partnering with community programs to strengthen your site’s outreach program.
TO LEARN MORE: The following resources will be helpful as you explore how to facilitate communication between school and families to support language and pre-literacy development:
Building Collaboration Between Schools and Parents of English Learners, Practitioner Brief includes information about transcending barriers that families of ELs encounter and creating opportunities for positive school-family relationships.
“Why Reading to Your Kids in Your Home Language Will Help Them Become Better Readers,” available on the Colorín Colorado website, provides information about how developing literacy in Spanish supports literacy in English. It includes practical tips for parents for supporting their child’s reading development in Spanish.
The Texas Infant, Toddler, and Three-Year-Old Early Learning Guidelines contains ideas for training topics for children from infancy through 48 months old. The “What you can do to support your child” tab within each developmental domain lists activities and strategies for promoting development.
Reading Rockets provides reading tips for parents.
Hanen Centre online contains early language development information that includes staff and family strategies.
NEXT STEPS: Depending on your progress in facilitating communication between your school and families to support language and pre-literacy development, you may want to consider some of the following next steps:
- Identify staff and/or community partners who are bilingual and can assist with translating written materials and live events.
- Determine areas of support needed for staff in establishing positive relationships with families and plan professional development.
- Review Lesson E6–Empowering parents and families in the Effective Instructional Framework module.
- Meet with your site-based leadership team to consider what outreach programs and resources you can provide.
- Research local organizations to locate potential partners for your outreach program.
- Develop a calendar of potential events and/or resources.