This Thanksgiving, more than 30 million people are expected to travel across the country to spend the holiday with families and friends. Over dinner, complete with turkey, stuffing, and an assortment of other dishes, smiles will illuminate, relatives will meet new babies, memories will be shared, and students will answer their family members’ most frequently asked question: “how’s school?” For the D.C. students who attend one of Flamboyan Foundation’s 40 Family Engagement Partnership schools, the answer will reflect the number of strategies that engage parents as partners to accelerate learning for students of all ages.
As the nation celebrates Thanksgiving and National Family Week (11/20-11/26), Flamboyan honors schools, school leaders, and educators for building trusting relationships with and supporting families to play age-appropriate roles. While parents play more of a “teacher” role for grade-school students, we know that the role shifts as students advance to secondary schools. In these settings, parents play more of a guiding and/or coaching role.
“From elementary to middle and high school, students are benefiting from the partnerships between teachers and families,” said Emmanuel Fortune, Sr. Director, College Readiness & Success Program Design at Flamboyan. “To support families to play age-appropriate roles, we work alongside high schools throughout the District to guide them in their efforts to create programming that engages families to be the ‘coach’ their child needs as they make lifelong college and career choices,” he said.
Flamboyan is a key lever in this progress, accelerating student learning by helping educators transform their relationships with families so that parents have the information they need to guide their child’s educational path from birth through college. While a parent of a second grader may read with the child or play educational games to boost rote memorization or literacy skills, a parent of a child enrolled in secondary school may encourage their child to develop organizational and study habits and help navigate the college preparedness, financial aid, application, and selection process.
“In middle school, we see the beginning of the change that will set the tone in high school,” said Matt Robinson, Director, School Partnerships Coach. “Families have transitioned from helping a child with homework to reviewing report cards and grades and asking the child to explain progress or setbacks,” he adds.
So, this Thanksgiving students will have diverse responses to that common “how’s school” question. Elementary-aged students might share that their teachers came by for a home visit to learn more about their parents’ hopes and dreams for them; middle school students will share how they advocated for themselves and presented school projects during a Student-Led Conference that their parents attended; high school students will share that their parents will join them on an upcoming school-coordinated college tour.
By tapping parents’ expertise and providing families the information they need to guide their child’s educational path through college, teaching and school performance improves, and students benefit. From all of us here at Flamboyan Foundation, we thank educators for their commitment to family engagement and for engaging parents as partners. Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday.