Volume 20 | October 13, 2021
Families As Critical Partners In Supporting Social, Emotional, and Academic Development
The pandemic has exacerbated existing disparities and inequities, with families from historically underserved communities experiencing unemployment, food insecurity, physical, and mental health problems at disproportionate rates. Exposure to these multiple hardships can have wide-ranging impacts for children, including the potential for adverse effects on emotion regulation, learning, behavior, and health. 

For student learning to continue in the context of the current environment, compassion and emotional awareness are essential, as are trusting relationships and a belief in children’s extensive capabilities. Students are set up for success when learning is a top priority and social and emotional needs are supported - both at home and at school. As noted by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), “when students have supportive relationships and opportunities to develop and practice social, emotional, and cognitive skills across many different contexts, academic learning accelerates.”

As schools deepen investment in social and emotional support, it is important to acknowledge the critical role that families have always played in nurturing their children across the social, emotional, and academic domains. Furthermore, families experiencing economic hardships, barriers to healthcare access and use, and oppression and discrimination as a result of their skin color stepped up in myriad ways to support their children’s learning during the pandemic. As such, it is critically important that schools and teachers recognize families for their implicit partnership, while also sharing accessible and inclusive information with families suffering in the pandemic that supports building social, emotional, and academic skills together. In addition to empowering families and children, a regular exchange of learning-focused information between parents and teachers helps strengthen connections among the key adults in a child's life in ways that further support children during these difficult times. 

We see this brought to life through FASTalk and are grateful for the opportunity to meaningfully support educators, families, and students in a growing number of school communities during the pandemic and beyond.

To learn how FASTalk supports social, emotional, and academic engagement, read more on the blog.

Elisabeth O'Bryon, Ph.D.
Co-Founder and Chief Impact Officer
Industry Recognition for Family Engagement Lab
Family Engagement Lab has been recognized and FASTalk has been showcased as an evidence-based solution for effective family engagement in the following industry reports:

  • For schools committed to creating and sustaining equitable learning environments for students, finding ways to value and cultivate the resources inherent within families is no longer a nice-to-have. Effective family engagement hinges on trust and reciprocity between families and schools, not simply disseminating information.

  • This playbook on family-school collaboration makes the case for why family engagement is essential for education systems transformation and why families and schools must have a shared understanding of what a good quality education looks like. 

Dr. Elisabeth O’Bryon was recently published in two blog posts:
What We're Learning
This recently released report is a follow-up study from 2018 of educators, administrators, and parents. The latest report shows that all stakeholders are more aware of SEL and its impact on learning, with educator awareness rising 11 points from 77% to 91%. And more than half the educators surveyed indicated that they have begun to implement SEL programs. 

What stands out to us is that, “Educators believe that students in urban and lower income schools/districts are significantly more likely to have additional SEL needs. However, those in urban and lower income districts were also significantly more likely to cite inadequate resources for instruction and support as the biggest challenge.”

Family Engagement Lab understands this dynamic of need and lack of resource well, and it fuels our commitment to work with our district partners to easily and at-scale, support classroom instruction both academic and SEL through building authentic connections between teachers and parents to reinforce learning at home. 

The McGraw Hill report reinforces what we know to be true for parents: “87% of parents say SEL is "important in helping children navigate today's world."

It is through FASTalk’s ability to foster the equitable, inclusive relationships between families and teachers that Family Engagement Lab supports the social, emotional, and academic learning that every child needs and deserves.
In the News
Upcoming Events
Back to the Future: Strategies for Centering Families’ Needs Post-Pandemic
Dr. Elisabeth O’Bryon presents: “Back to the Future: Strategies for Centering Families’ Needs Post-Pandemic” on October 14 at 1:45 p.m. ET.
During the session, participants will learn how to collect and apply family feedback to inform your approach to advancing equitable school-home partnerships that support student learning. Participants will also complete a planning tool to clarify key action steps for developing a family engagement strategy that centers families’ needs.
Engaging Families in SEL
Please join us for a webinar co-hosted by Committee for Children on Wednesday, October 27 at 11 a.m. PDT to learn more about how to activate the power of families in your SEL work. We will talk about best practices for meaningful, equitable family engagement and will also share resources and ideas you can use to partner with families through your SEL program and with Second Step.
Contact Us
Have questions? Email us at felcommunications@fastalk.org.
Don't forget to follow us on social media for the latest tools and resources to support family engagement.