Australia’s national education evidence body

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

Family engagement for learning is related to Focus Area 3.7 and Focus Area 7.3 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

Australian Professional Standards for Principals

Family engagement for learning is related to 'Professional Practice 5 Engaging and working with the community' in the Australian Professional Standards for Principals.

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There is a great deal of evidence that families play a critical role in their child’s learning. This resource details strategies for engaging families from culturally diverse backgrounds, families with English as an additional language, and families from refugee backgrounds, elaborating on the ‘promising approaches’ outlined in AERO’s family engagement for learning practice guides. 

Context

Although each family’s story and background are unique, this resource offers starting points for teachers and school leaders on how to ensure family engagement for learning through full access and participation for all families. 

Before accessing this resource, take time to reflect on your own cultural and linguistic identity:

  • As part of our own culture, environment or upbringing, we may hold certain unconscious biases or assumptions that influence the way we approach other individuals or groups. 
  • While biases may not always be negative, we do need to acknowledge and be aware of their existence and consider the potential impact these can have on others. 
  • When working with culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) families, try to ensure you are not inadvertently applying any personal biases and assumptions that might influence how you engage. 
  • Sometimes it may be hard to identify these by yourself, so it can be worth discussing your experiences with your co-workers. 
  • You may consider participating in cultural competency training either individually or as part of your team to learn more about, reflect on and embrace diversity, and promote inclusion in school settings.
  • For the purposes of this resource and all AERO family engagement resources, ‘families’ includes biological parents, legal guardians, adoptive parents, kin carers and out-of-home (foster) carers.  

Examples of CaLD families

There are many different kinds of CaLD families, including those: 

  • from culturally diverse backgrounds
  • with English as an additional language or dialect
  • from refugee backgrounds.

Promising approaches

Recognising and supporting family engagement in learning at home

Families who feel they are working in partnership with their child’s school are more likely
to engage in practices to support learning at home. 

Considerations, strategies and reflection questions

Supporting two-way, positive communication and providing light touch updates about learning

Effective two-way communication draws on the knowledge and expertise of both families and teachers about children’s learning. Light touch updates to families about student learning improves students’ academic achievement, particularly for students at risk of falling behind.

Considerations, strategies and reflection questions

Promoting a literacy-rich environment at home (Primary school students)

A literacy-rich environment is where language in various forms (like talking, listening, reading, storytelling and visual arts) is part of daily life. This type of environment allows children to practice their literacy skills often, in functional ways. One specific way schools can support a literacy-rich environment at home is by promoting shared reading.

Considerations, strategies and reflection questions

Collaboratively planning and problem solving with families

Collaborative planning and problem solving between families, students and school staff has been shown to improve students’ academic outcomes. Collaborative planning could involve working together with families and students to identify students’ individual goals (for example, around developing reading skills or transitioning smoothly from primary to secondary school), as well as strategies for achieving these goals.

Considerations, strategies and reflection questions

Available supports

Support services exist to support family engagement between you and families from CaLD backgrounds. These services will vary based on your location, but it is important to investigate and be aware of what resources you are able to draw on. Some examples might include:

  • migrant resource services, bicultural support services and services available through local councils
  • interpreting and translating services, including teachers within your school who can assist
  • trauma support services.

If there are teachers within your school who can assist with interpreting and translating, consider whether they are also able to help families to build social connections through their own networks. 

For more information

We have further guidance, including practice guides, case studies:

Engaging with families of children who are in out-of-home care in schools

There is a great deal of evidence that families play a critical role in their child’s learning. This resource details strategies for engaging with families of children in out-of-home care (OOHC) to support children’s learning outcomes.

Snapshots of practice

Family engagement may look different in different contexts. We’ve released case studies looking at family engagement in several school settings.

Family engagement for learning

There is a great deal of evidence that families play a critical role in their child’s learning. Family engagement is important throughout all stages of schooling, but strategies may look different at different stages.

References

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