APS Column: Importance of family engagement

Published 5:24 pm Friday, April 5, 2024

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By Derik Gustafson

Southgate Elementary School principal

In an era where education is changing, the role of family engagement in schools stands out as a cornerstone of success. Research consistently underscores the impact that parental involvement has on student achievement, behavior, and overall well-being. Recognizing this, one of our post-pandemic priorities has been fostering strong partnerships between schools and families. We believe that this is critical to meeting our district priority of a “Safe and Welcoming” learning environment.

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Family engagement encompasses a broad spectrum of activities, ranging from attending parent-teacher conferences and volunteering in the classroom to supporting homework completion and gathering at the school proper. Another example is the Winter and Spring Concert series that are conducted at each Austin elementary school. When parents are actively involved in their children’s education, students tend to exhibit higher levels of motivation, better attendance rates, and improved academic performance across all grade levels.

One of the most significant benefits of family engagement is its positive influence on student achievement. Studies have shown that when parents are actively involved in their children’s learning, students are more likely to excel academically and develop essential skills for lifelong success. Moreover, engaged parents can provide valuable support and guidance, helping their children navigate academic challenges and set realistic goals for the future.

Beyond academic outcomes, family engagement also plays a vital role in fostering a sense of community and belonging within schools. When families are actively involved in school activities and events, it creates a collaborative environment where educators, parents, and students work together to create positive experiences. Examples of these include the Bike Rodeo at Neveln, the Welcome Week at Sumner, the Playground Family Night at Banfield and the Schoolyard Bash at Southgate.

Furthermore, family engagement has been linked to improved behavior and social-emotional development among students. When parents are invested in their children’s education, it sends a powerful message that learning is valued and important. As a result, students are more likely to exhibit positive behavior, develop stronger social skills, and cultivate a sense of responsibility both inside and outside the classroom. This year at Southgate, our newly created Behavior Interventionist was able to highlight the work were doing in the classroom and engage students in their families in activities that highlight the learning.

In conclusion, family engagement is not merely a nicety but a critical component of student success. By fostering strong partnerships between schools and families, we create a supportive environment where all students can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. As we continue to strive for excellence in education, let us remember that the journey to success begins with a shared commitment to nurturing and empowering our students, both inside and outside the classroom.