By Henry Garcia, Stanford University Graduate
“What is often overlooked is the more challenging issue of how to involve [the parents] in the schooling process in ways that are both affirming and empowering to them and of benefit to schools”
- Yvonne De Gaetano, 2007
IMPLICATIONS FOR PROGRAMS- Henry Garcia, Stanford University
This research highlights the need for family engagement programs to operationalize a deep understanding and appreciation of diverse families’ culture and life situations. Starting from the position that parents are motivated to support their children’s academic success, then developing programming catered to the life circumstances and cultural norms, values, and strengths of the community, has the potential to offer a powerful set of tools and resources to build family strength and support children’s learning. In this case study, a family-based curriculum that allowed parents to learn alongside their children and partners proved especially critical, as did a positive relationship between instructors and participating families. Moreover, by using culturally-relevant books, celebrating parents’ experience, holding classes in the evenings, and providing dinner and childcare, Familias Unidas was able to cultivate a respectful and empowering context for building parents’ strengths and skills. The suggested benefits of increasing parental participation, skills, and aspirations—for themselves and their children—illustrates the potential of family engagement programs that work with low-income, Latino immigrant parents in culturally-responsive, empowering, and respectful ways.