Learning Memo — Creating Engagement Pathways for Families During Remake Learning Days and Beyond

In partnership with the Global Family Research Project, this series of Learning Memos are designed to share information on what has been learned from past experience and to highlight strategy ideas moving forward.

The Global Family Research Project is the successor to the Harvard Family Research Project that began in 1983. With a decades-long track record in defining and advancing the fields of family, school, and community engagement, the Global Family Research Project is working to create equitable learning pathways for children and families.

Recently, researchers at the project explored the experiences of the diverse host organizations that have participated in Remake Learning Days and gleaned important benefits of family engagement opportunities. This Learning Memo explores the impact of Remake Learning Days experiences on family understanding of and support for STEAM learning, and how to sustain that interest long after the end of Remake Learning Days.

Here’s an excerpt from the memo Creating Engagement Pathways for Families During Remake Learning Days and Beyond:

Our thanks to the many Southwest Pennsylvania Remake Learning Days 2019 organizations that completed our recent survey about their goals, activities, and ideas for increasing family engagement during Remake Learning Days
and beyond. A total of 101 organizations—including schools, out-of-school time programs, libraries, community centers, and others—completed the survey.

This Learning Memo highlights key findings from our preliminary analysis of the survey data we collected. Here, we describe the ways that organizations are prioritizing families and the many practices they are putting in place so that families see and experience new ways of learning and can continue engaging in STEAM beyond the special events and across the year. We note the means through which organizations are addressing the barriers families face in participating in Remake Learning Days and related STEAM activities, and report the types of support organizations would welcome to improve their capacity to engage families in STEAM learning.

FINDING 1: Organizations are transforming family understanding of and capacity for supporting children’s learning through STEAM.

Organizations have multiple goals for supporting family engagement in STEAM learning, as Table 1 shows. They are creating events and experiences that increase families’ understanding of and aspirations and expectations for STEAM learning. They are also building capacity and confidence so that families can support their children’s STEAM learning in the Remake events and throughout the year, both in and out of school.

FINDING 2: Organizations engage families through various practices and seek to ignite family engagement in STEAM throughout the year.

Organizations are working hard to engage families during Remake Learning Days 2019 and to extend families’ support for and engagement with STEAM across the year. As Table 2 shows, organizations are establishing themselves as trusted resources to support family engagement in STEAM learning both within the organizations and throughout the broader community. They are connecting families with information to continue engagement in STEAM learning in several ways: by posting pictures during and after events, by talking with families about similar programs, and by promoting other STEAM resources. They are also sending home tip sheets and activities so that parents can continue to support learning both at home and in the community. Altogether, these efforts are helping to build a strong STEAM ecosystem, and as you will see in our next finding, organizations are working hard to make sure it is an equitable one.

FINDING 3: Organizations are using a variety of strategies to ensure that families can participate in Remake Learning Days 2019.

Families have busy lives, and organizations are doing a variety of things to ensure that all families—particularly those often left out due to their racial, cultural, linguistic, or economic status—can participate. To accomplish this, organizations are:

  • Reducing barriers to attendance
  • Providing participation incentives
  • Reaching out to families
  • Providing resources for families to continue to engage with their children around STEAM learning

FINDING 4: Organizations welcome financial support, opportunities to learn with and from each other, and other means for building their capacity to engage families.

As organizations* develop their Remake Learning Days events and promote family engagement in STEAM learning across the year, they indicated a number of things that would help them build their capacity as well as the larger STEAM ecology of which they are a part. Some of the key supports cited are:

  • Stipends to participate in meetings and trainings
  • Workshops, webinars, and other training opportunities to strengthen staff capacity in Remake Learning and beyond.
  • Opportunities to connect and share with others.

Read more about these strategies for sustaining family engagement in the full Learning Memo here: Creating Engagement Pathways for Families During Remake Learning Days and Beyond

Published May 14, 2019