Family engagement is essential for enhancing children’s learning and family well-being. Family engagement occurs when there is an ongoing, reciprocal, strengths-based partnership between families and their children’s early childhood education programs (Halgunseth et al, 2009). Positive family-program connections have been linked to greater academic motivation, grade promotion, and socioemotional skills across all young children, including those from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds (Christenson, 2000; Mantzicopoulos, 2003; McWayne et al., 2004).
Family engagement is about much more than just greeting families when they drop off or pick up their child; real partnership means collaborating with families to build the learning environment around each child’s needs, strengths, interests, and cultural and linguistic background. Building sustainable family-school partnerships takes time, leadership skills, professional development, coaching, tools, and resources. It is important for early childhood educators to critically examine the dimensions of race, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, language, ability, and religion in their students’ communities in order to connect students’ lives to learning contexts in their early childhood settings. Early childhood educators must think about similarities and differences in their own upbringing with those of their students and how their background impacts their interactions with their students.
Create a welcoming environment:
When families approach the child care setting do they feel they belong?
Are there opportunities for families to develop relationships and communicate with staff that serve their children?
Is the atmosphere family-friendly and reflective of the cultures and languages of the community?
Are there many ways to volunteer and participate in children’s early childhood development even for parents who may be working two jobs or who don’t speak English or have a car?
Build a respectful, inclusive community:
Do child care program policies reflect and respect the diversity of the families in the community?
Does program staff work with families to identify and address barriers to involvement (such as differences of income, education, language, and culture)?
Are events open to the whole family and offered at convenient times and places?
Find materials to assist in Family-Program Partnerships here.
Home Learning Activities
Cooking / Crafts / Outdoors
- Mother Cloud – Sensory recipes you can make using common household ingredients. (English)
- The Kennedy Center – Doodling lessons with Mo Willems. Video and printable activity sheets. (English)
- Scholastics – Scholastic has created a free learn-from-home site with 20+ days of learning and activities. (English, Spanish)
- Highlight Kids – Recipes and crafts to do at home with your children, jokes to lighten the mood, and other games. (English)
- Prescription Trails – Walking trails in the Las Cruces area. (English)
- All Trails – Walking trails in your area. Available as an app as well. (English)
- Raddish Kids – Raddish Kids is a culinary subscription and cooking club for children. Free recipes that can be made with pantry staples, at home cooking camp curriculum, and daily cook activities. (English)
- Seattle Time – 23 fun Activities for toddlers and preschool kids. (English)
Math / Literacy / STEM
- Twinkl – Parents’ Hub contains hundreds of educational activities designed for use at home. Offering teachers and parents of children in schools which are closed, or facing closure, free access to all Twinkl resources for a period of one month in the first instance.
- Manga High – MATH focus, offering educational activities, games, and quizzes for children in multiple languages. Free trial available.
- Education Perfect – A rich library of curriculum-aligned lessons and assessments across the subject areas. Content is carefully scaffolded to allow all students to experience success, while providing rich opportunities for higher order thinking. EP is actively supporting schools from over 30 countries around the world disrupted by COVID-19. Due to the on-going changing landscape, EP is providing free and unlimited access to all schools until 1st May. (English)
- Mystery Science – Offering a starter science list of activities to do at home. Teacher and parent sign-Up. (English)
- Age of Learning – Age of Learning provides schools closed due to the coronavirus with free home access for all affected families to leading digital education programs (ABCMouse, Adventure Academy, ReadingIQ). (English)
- Geez Ween – Free journaling prompts for teens. (English)
- Ranger Rick – Free online magazine subscription. Science and Nature activities for children to do while home during school closures. (English)
- 77 Simple Science Activities – Simple STEM Activities for Families-ideas to get your STEM learning started at home or school. (English, Spanish)
- We Are Teachers – Math games using regular playing cards. (English)
- Star Fall – Free program teaches children to read. Connected with common core ctandards.
- Splash Brain – K-5 based math programs online. Free for families and programs. (English)
- Storyline Online – Children’s books read aloud on video. (English)
- Cool Math 4 Kids – Math games, manipulatives, brain teasers, printable flash cards, quizzes, lessons, etc. (English)
- Math Game Time – Math games and homework help online. (English)
- Unite for Literacy – Narrated books, mostly non-fiction. (English, Spanish)
- Literactive – Guided reading and downloadable activities. (English)
- Science for Kids – Math and science games, experiments, and more. (English)
- Switch Zoo – Animal games and teacher resources. (English)
- What Do We Do All Day – Books, resources, games, and activities. (English)
- Ideas prácticas para la enseñanza del niño preescolar – Articulos en espanol sobre diferentes areas de interes de la edad temprana Ciencias, Matematicas, arte, Musica, ideas para participacion familiar. (Spanish)
- Find Opportunities to Play with Math! Ages 0-8 – Articles with ideas of math games and activities that range in level of skills.
- Audible – Audiobooks and stories for all ages. Free trial. (English)
- 123 Homeschool – A variety of activities for preschool to school age children. (English)
- Brookes Publishing – 24 at home learning activities to share with parents. (English)
- The San Diego Zoo – Free pages for children filled with educational activities related to animals and the environment; includes games, videos, and virtual stories. (English)
- National Geographic – Access to National Geographic resources for kids. (English)
- Mystery Doug – A starter list of K-5 science lessons videos with explanation and activities that follow. (English)
- Squiggle Park – Raising reading skills, support ELL students through games designed to support their specific needs. (English, Spanish)
- Family Time Machine supported by Toyota – A collection of fun activities to do with families. Categorized by time of the day such as: bed time, dinner time, bath time, etc. Helping families make the most out of their days. (English)
- GoGuardian – Management tools for virtual classrooms. (English)
- Khan Academy – Free online platform that offers daily learning schedules, links to other online sources, and activities. Provides families with a daily learning schedule for their children to use while at home. (English)
- Microsoft Education – Microsoft Teams: How to set up a virtual classroom using a shared page. (English)
- Zoom – Virtual Meeting: Teacher and programs can use this to conduct meetings. (English)
- 125 Ideas de actividades para hacer en casa – Juegos y actividades para realizar en casa durante la cuarentena o si los padres están haciendo teletrabajo. (Spanish)