Family expectations and encouragement play a very strong part in fostering the emotional, social, and educational development of a student; level of family engagement in the learning process correlates significantly with several measures of student achievement, including behavioral measures, standardized test scores, and enrollment in honors and advanced placement classes. Thus one of the most crucial jobs of the culturally responsive instructor is enlisting the aid of students’ families in the education process.
In much the same way that a caring relationship greatly aids interactions between teacher and student in the classroom, the existence of a caring relationship between instructor and family goes a long way toward facilitating family involvement in student learning. It is imperative that parents and families feel that they are important actors in their child’s education.
Sending parents surveys and questionnaires asking for their thoughts about education, student behavior, and academic expectations can go a long way toward making them feel a sense of empowerment. Engaging in open dialogues in person is even better; if a teacher can make it clear that she is interested in listening to and acting upon a family’s educational goals and needs then it is that much more likely that their child will benefit from the social support required for academic success.
Such support need not manifest itself in the student’s family volunteering at school or participating in school activities; if you can convince parents that their child’s school environment is nurturing and worthwhile then they are more likely to do the little things that help a student succeed, such as making sure that homework is a priority, encouraging consistent school attendance, and providing reinforcement for the child that school is an important part of life. If parents communicate high expectations, pride, and interest in their child’s academic life then that will likely lead to improved attainment of academic goals and learning.