It is important to recognize that all parents1, regardless of income, education level or cultural background, are interested in their child’s learning and want their child to do well in school. Developing relationships with parents involves intentional communication and individual outreach. Always proceed with the assumption that all families can help improve their child’s performance in school and influence other key outcomes that affect achievement.

Recommendations2 for Building Relationships Among Schools, Communities and Families

  • Adopt formal school- and district-level policies that promote family involvement, including an explicit focus on engaging families who reflect the full diversity of the student population.
  • Demonstrate active and ongoing support from the school principal.
  • Honor families’ hopes and concerns for their child.
  • Acknowledge both commonalities and differences among students and families.
  • Strengthen school staff capacity to work well with families.
  • Provide supports to help immigrant families understand how schools work and what is expected of both families and students.
  • Make outreach a priority; take the extra steps necessary to make it possible for families to get involved at school, as well as at home.
  • Recognize that it takes time to build trust.


1 A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family and Community Connections on Student Achievement, by Anne T. Henderson and Karen L. Mapp (Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, 2002).

2 National Center for Family & Community Connections With Schools Copyright ©2005 Southwest Educational Development Laboratory p. 56

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