Family Engagement in Literacy: Using Intentionally Inviting Education and Teaching to Engage Families in Literacy By Laurie Elish-Piper
We live in challenging times. Political issues polarize us; social media bullying and social issues such as substance abuse and food and housing insecurity face our communities. You may be wondering what these issues have to do with a column on engaging families in literacy, and my response is definitely “Everything!” Let me explain. Working with students and their families is a human endeavor focused on building interpersonal relationships. How can we do that when families are struggling for survival or dealing with major issues that consume their attention and energy? How can we do that when families hold viewpoints or values that are markedly different than our own? How can we do that when we, ourselves, are struggling with significant issues in our own lives and families?
In this column, I will attempt to address these questions by sharing information about creating a classroom environment and approach to engaging with families that is intentionally inviting (Purkey & Novak, 1996). I will also draw on the work of Fisher et al. (2018) about being an intentionally inviting teacher and how this approach can apply to working with families. I will then discuss several key assurances to share with families to help create a caring environment (Milner et al., 2019) and how we can apply those key ideas to creating opportunities and spaces for families to engage with their children’s literacy development and education. Finally, because the teacher is central to all of these processes, and we must make sure we have the energy and optimism to do the vital work of engaging with our students’ families, I will conclude the column with a brief discussion about the importance of and ways to engage in self-care.
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