The South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) defines parent engagement as when “parents and families are actively involved in the learning and development of all students to become college-and career-ready.” The evolution from the use of the term parent “involvement” to the use of parent “engagement” signifies moving from the goal of expecting parents to routinely attend school functions to a more active role as partners in students’ educational processes.
Approaches to family engagement may be different depending on the age of the student and the school and community context. Some families of at-risk students may need help with how to access extended learning opportunities, tutoring, or other types of extra academic supports for their student within a school; and some families may need help in more effectively interacting with their student’s teacher, principal, or other school staff.
To the extent that schools and LEAs are successful in giving families the tools, skills, and needed information to help their student, the families are more likely to be better able to support their student at home. Moving families to a more “engaged” status, particularly in high-poverty communities, is a challenge faced by many low performing schools.
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