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Mel Gravely

Sharing Ongoing Child Assessment Data Encourages Better Family Engagement

Have you ever heard the saying, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts?” I can’t think of a better example than when parents and educators are on the same page when it comes to preparing for a child’s future. While each side’s contribution is essential on its own, when communication is flowing freely and the two sides have a mutually agreed-upon plan based on data, then the results can be truly transformative for that child.

Strengthening Family Engagement Through Sharing

The primary goal of data sharing should be helping families understand what assessment is, and that the goal of assessment is to support a child’s progress by informing the teacher and family about approaches to enhancing their child’s learning and development. When united, the combined efforts of family and staff members can formulate a much better approach than any of them could do alone. To that end, sharing assessment information between all parties is simply the best way of cooperating on a productive level. It allows staff to better understand a child’s behavior and personality in a way that they might otherwise have never noticed. It also gives parents a clearer understanding of their child’s prospects, abilities, and what disadvantages may require more personal attention.

Sharing Strategies

Everyone, staff and parents all included, have the opportunity to share information in a meaningful way. The real trick is to get everyone on the same page to effectively utilize the information shared. It’s an ongoing process the requires regular communication that all parties can use and understand. To accomplish this, there are few strategies worth bearing in mind.

Listen To The Parents’ Perspective – Ideally, this should be the first step in opening up communication. This allows you to identify what information is important to both you and the families. Take the time to understand what they understand, what conclusions they’ve drawn, what questions they may have, and how they view their child’s progress altogether.

Be Positive, Descriptive, & Specific – Describing a child’s positive qualities are a great way to get parents to open up and engage with the conversation. It’s also helpful to describe things in a specific way that clearly defines what the child’s behavior is like. Vivid descriptions are useful for making the information meaningful, while concise language makes the information easier to understand.

Focus On Relationships & Emotions – The role of parents is always an emotional one, which should be acknowledged and respected. This includes listening to families’ hopes, concerns, and questions about how and whether their child’s development will move forward. Similarly, understanding the relationship parents have with their children can be useful data of its own. When parents understand their feelings and relationship to their child is valued, they’re much more likely to respond in a positive way to staff ideas and concerns.

Have Patience & Remain Optimistic – Trying to coalesce the various feelings, concerns, and ideas about how a child is being educated can be a challenge. Remember that the process is an ongoing one. As time goes on, parents can appreciate that their child’s needs are being met consistently and that their perspective is valued. When treated diligently, the relationship between staff and parents can strengthen, leading to more productive sharing and better insights into how their child should be treated.

Family Engagement Matters

The benefits of engagement impact all parties involved. For parents, they might gain insight into resources within the community that can support their child’s learning, such as programs at the library or community center. For staff, they gain valuable support in transitioning students from preschool to school by helping families feel comfortable in communicating and describing their child’s accomplishments, strengths, and challenges. With the combined efforts of the figures most responsible for a child’s success maintaining a positive and productive relationship, better results can be achieved in almost every aspect of their preparation for the future.

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