|Principles of Effective Practice|
Principle 6: Programs implement a comprehensive program-level system for family engagement
What it means: Programs institutionalize family engagement policies and practices and ensure that leadership and teachers receive the supports they need to fully engage families.
To be successful, programs must have a strong vision for family engagement that is shared by staff and families. This broad-scale vision enables programs to be intentional about reaching out to families in specific ways. In particular, the 15 programs NAEYC identified as exemplary set and reinforce high standards on issues related to diversity, anti-bias, and family engagement. Each program’s mission and vision, core values, educational philosophy, and goals are clearly articulated in the program materials and curriculum for parents and staff to know and understand. Several factors contribute to establishing this type of comprehensive program-level system.
Effective Leadership. Leadership sets the tone, and the selected programs clearly benefit from strong, effective leadership. In several cases, the director is virtually synonymous with the program, as either the founder or a long-term leader. Many of the programs’ directors have held their position for well over 20 years. These directors work consistently to ensure sustainability beyond their tenure by institutionalizing the program philosophy into written mission and vision statements, policies, and curriculum.
Diverse Staff. At these programs, teachers are diverse and reflect the community the program serves. Many programs nurture parents into becoming teacher assistants, teachers, and family workers. For example,
Anti-bias Curriculum. Programs that implement an anti-bias curriculum set the stage for effective family engagement. At the YWCA of Minneapolis Downtown Children’s Center, the anti-bias curriculum helps children develop positive attitudes about their own identity and others by providing an environment that includes non-sexist, non-stereotyping images and activities and sounds, textures, and foods from the diverse cultures represented in the classroom. Clare Sanford of the YWCA staff shares, “The anti-bias curriculum is amazing to see in action—just the other day a Muslim child dressed herself up in a hijab, and was immediately followed by a young boy who wasn’t Muslim. The two of them had lovely hijabs! Imagine how welcoming it is for a Muslim parent to see not only her daughter allowed to experiment (and dress like Mom), but to see that other children are allowed to experiment and navigate the same things instead of being told to stop.”
Professional Development. Ongoing, relevant professional development and resources help ensure that staff members are prepared to work effectively with diverse families. Professional development opportunities include training and resources on such topics as
The selected programs have engaged in professional development in some specific ways:
Developed for NAEYC's Engaging Diverse Families Project through a generous grant from the Picower Foundation.
|More From This Section|
|Tools & Resources|
|About Engaging Diverse Families|