Family Engagement and Support – OH Community Collaboration Model for School Improvement

Ohio has published a model for school improvement based on community and family engagement. The section on family engagement and support can be found at:

http://education.ohio.gov/getattachment/Topics/Other-Resources/Family-and-Community-Engagement/Models-for-Family-and-Community-Engagement/Family-Engagement-and-Support.pdf.aspx

Family engagement and support is crucial to our student’s development, and involves both behaviors at the schools and at home.

Parents can support schools through activities such as volunteering or attending school events. Schools can support parents through family support groups, education efforts, GED/literacy or ESL programs, and more. Forming a two-way relationship, in which parents and schools are equal partners toward success, helps all parties involved.

7.2 Checklist7.2 continued

This document also includes design principles and strategies, along with descriptions of what these principles look like.

I also liked the “4 most important findings on family-school relationships”:

  1. Parents and teachers usually want the same things for the child
  2. Many barriers prevent teachers from developing this realization
  3. These barriers can be addressed and allow families and schools to work together
  4. Intermediaries (e.g. United Way) can help remove these barriers

 

Overall, this document is an excellent resource for considerations when working toward family-school partnerships, and would be a great starting place for any school administrator or psychologist wondering where to start.

 

 

 

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Family-School EBIs with Preschoolers

Preschool is an important time for not only child development, but also in development of family-school partnerships. Bates (2005) summarized the research on specific family-school interventions for preschoolers as part of School Psychology Quarterly’s special issue on the topic. Overall, “results indicate that family-school interventions with preschool children have taken many forms, have targeted a variety of problems and behaviors, and have generally shown positive effects. Efficacious interventions included parent and teacher training, parent education, and behavioral family therapy” (Bates, 2005, p. 352). Many of the effect sizes of the studies in this report were medium-to-large, indicating clinical significance. This report summarized 15 studies.

The studies that showed Strong or Promising Evidence included:

  • Goff & Demetral’s (1983) intervention on parent and teacher training on behavior modification, which helped students with developmental disabilities reduce aggressive episodes.
  • Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, a behavioral family approach, showed strong improvement in behavior across settings
  • PARTNERS parent-education program, which involved parent education over 8-9 weeks on parenting skills, positive discipline, and social skills.
  • Incredibly Years Training Series also showed strong evidence, an education program similar to PARTNERS but also including teachers.

Overall, they found that family-school connections and interventions can be valuable for preschoolers, and since this time, there may be newer interventions on this topic that were not covered in this review.

Reference:

Bates, S. L. (2005). Evidence-based family-school interventions with preschool children. School Psychology Quarterly, 20(4), 352.

Family Involvement in Schools

Reschly (n.d.) provided an excellent summary of the importance of family involvement in schools and RTI. This article can be found at: http://www.rtinetwork.org/essential/family/schools-familes-and-rti

Here are some of the main takeaways I took from this resource:

  • Family involvement is clearly linked to a student’s outcomes in school and beyond
  • When schools and families effectively collaborate, these outcomes are further improved (Henderson & Mapp, 2002)
  • Research on this topic is difficult to conduct as it is hard to isolate parent involvement as a factor, but it is promising regardless
  • The “Task Force on Empirically Supported Interventions in School Psychology, found moderate to large effect sizes across family intervention domains (i.e., parent education, parent involvement, family/parent consultation, family–school collaboration/partnerships, family systems therapy/family training, and early childhood family-focused interventions; Carlson & Christenson, 2005). Across these areas, certain intervention components stood out: those that stressed collaboration and dialogue between families and schools and joint monitoring of student progress; parent interventions that focused on specific, measurable outcomes; family involvement interventions that emphasized the role of parents as tutors in a defined subject area; and school–family consultation (Christenson & Carlson, 2005).”
    • This article consistently cites this Special Issue of School Psychology Quarterly,

      Volume 20, issue 4 (2005), which may be a valuable starting point in synthesizing research on this topic.

  • In its ideal form, RTI allows parents and educators to collaborate from the start of any noticed difficulties and continue to build a positive relationship through the intervention process and beyond.
  • Let’s problem solve together with parents!!

 

Importance of Teacher-Psych Collaboration for Mood Disorders

Mocinic & Feresin (2012) published a brief paper on the importance of teacher and school psychologist collaboration in assisting primary school students with mood disorders. Teachers are in a valuable position to recognize disorders in children and should be the first point of contact in regards to their classroom behavior and potential symptoms for mood or behavioral disorders. If a teacher is noticing some symptoms that are out of the ordinary for a student, it is important to note these concerns to an parent, administrator, and/or the school psychologist through a referral.

According to this article, some teachers may not be aware that a school psychologist could potentially assist with these situations. Though it is true that we are not psychotherapists, school psychologists have training in mental disorders and can be a valuable first step for connecting a student or parent to community-based resources, or as a triage step if they cannot receive outside services.

The authors recommend a universal screening process and referral of students who score highly for further evaluation and follow-up. Then, a treatment plan can be implemented through collaboration with the psychologist, teacher, parents, and any outside providers or involved individuals. The article also mentions a few simple steps for facilitating this collaboration, including:

  • Involving the teacher in therapy if possible and helpful
  • Providing a supportive environment in the classroom
  • Helping create positive peer connections
  • Continuing to report any changes or successes visible in the classroom
  • Regularly meeting as part of a multidisciplinary mental health team

These tips can be applied to most student observations, and facilitating a positive relationship between teachers and the school psychologist (e.g. through the previous post’s advice) can lead to increased outcomes for the students in our schools at any ages.

 

Reference

Mocinic, S. & Feresin, C. (2012). The importance of collaboration between teachers and school psychologists in helping primary schoolchildren to cope with mood disorders. Occasional Papers in Education & Lifelong Learning: An International Journal Volume 6, Nos. 1—2, 2012, pp. 98—108 . Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237077708_The_importance_of_collaboration_between_teachers_and_school_psychologists_in_helping_primary_schoolchildren_to_cope_with_mood_disorders.

How School Psychologists Can Support Teachers

This post, from school-psychology.org, provides some general tips on how to better support teachers.

http://school-psychology.org/school-psychologists-can-support-teachers

Some of the advice may seem slightly obvious. However, especially the buy-in strategies, these small things can be crucial for feeling welcomed in the school and creating effective collaboration between disciplines. Teachers have a lot on their plate, so offering ongoing support, including materials, professional development, data collection, and support with students who may provide unique challenges, can all be invaluable.