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School Teacher

Break Barriers.

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Parental Involvement Toolbox!

COVID-19 created helicopter parents 2.0, engaged others for the first time and left some further behind. It’s incumbent on schools to sustain those newfound relationships, especially with low-income families that had little opportunity pre-COVID-19 to participate in school through traditional methods. Here we provide prior research and the most recent research to  help your schools reimagine parent and family engagement.

Barriers Before & After Covid

Pre-Covid - Benefits, Barriers and Strategies in Family Engagement

Project Appleseed


Literature Review

& Pop Quiz

Barriers to involvement exist for both schools and families. Some barriers are created by limited resources, while others originate from the beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes of families and school staff. The most common barriers to family involvement are included here.  

Post-COVID - Opinions, Strategies and Recommendations

1. Parent Opinions ______________________________________________________________________________________________


Parents 2021: Going Beyond the Headlines

At a time when headlines often pit parents and educators against each other, Parents 2021: Going Beyond the Headlines tells a more nuanced and hopeful story of how increased engagement and strong agreement demonstrate a desire for more robust family-school partnerships. Learning Heroes' sixth annual national survey dives deeply into the beliefs and perceptions of parents, teachers, and, for the first time, principals. The research is in partnership with National PTA, National Urban League, UnidosUS, and Univision.

Parent Survey

  • Nationwide sample of 1,481 parents and guardians with children in public school, grades K-12, including:

    • 662 elementary school parents

    • 367 middle school parents

    • 452 high school parents

  • Oversamples among Black and Hispanic parents

  • Fielded September 7th-27th, 2021

  • Offered in both English and Spanish

  • Data were weighted to be representative of public school parents in the U.S.

Educator Survey

  • Nationwide sample of 305 teachers and 304 Principals in public schools, grades K-12, including:

    • 192 elementary school educators

    • 223 middle school educators

    • 219 high school educators

  • Fielded September 8th-28th, 2021

  • Data were weighted to be representative of public school teachers and principals in the U.S. 



2. Strategies to Virtually Engage and Support Families ___________________________________

This brief from Child Trends offers an overview of four best practices and lessons learned from research and practice to assist caregivers and teachers with the transition to engaging families virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond. As preschools and schools continue to reopen, caregivers (e.g., child care providers and teachers) are quickly pivoting to using virtual platforms to support and engage families in children’s learning. This rapid transition has left little time to assess what we know (and do not know) about family engagement best practices within the virtual space.

3. Embracing a New Normal:

Toward a More Liberatory Approach to Family Engagement __________________________________

The three federal stimulus bills passed by Congress in 2020 and 2021 provided $190 billion to schools through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. This tremendous infusion of one-time funds offers schools and systems a historic opportunity to invest in high-priority areas. To support systems seeking to invest in family engagement, we offer the following recommendations for building the infrastructure to support the organizational conditions described in the Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships (Version 2).


These recommendations from the Carnegie Foundation and Dr. Karen Mapp are meant to help schools and systems overcome the resistance to change that has inhibited effective practices to date and to build a new model for family engagement through a liberatory vision of public education.

  • Make time during the workday for family engagement.

  • Invest in professional learning (and unlearning) to shift mindsets about families.

  • Invest in ongoing guidance to incorporate new mind- sets into existing routines and practices.

  • Create senior-level positions dedicated to family and community engagement.

  • Focus family engagement efforts on staff development.

  • Integrate family engagement into equity agendas.

  • Develop authentic family engagement policies and metrics.                            

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