During these uncertain times partner-
ing with students and families is even more essential. Each student’s physical environment, access to technology and
other learning tools, and availability of essential needs such as food is unique. So, in order for any learning and enhanced
well-being to occur, caregivers and schools must partner in order to determine and meet the needs of each. Families can
also provide support for schools. Parents are taking on tasks formerly performed by school staff, and may have access to
resources or skills that could benefit the school. For partnership to thrive in these times, there must be: frequent and clear
communication, mutual assistance, and an understanding that the school, its staff, its families, and its students, are all in
this together and doing their best. This spirit of partnership can be reinforced through communication of clear, shared goals
related to the well-being of the entire community during this time.
Educators and school staff
Educators and school staff can consider the following strategies for partnering with families to enhance the learning and
overall well-being of students and their families:
- Share information with caregivers about how kids might respond to stress, including how stress might play out by age
- Emphasize that families need to give themselves some space when emotions run high, and model how to regulate
emotions to help children cope.
- Remind families that children become regulated through connection with a calm and regulated person. As a child’s
anxiety increases, their thinking, learning brain becomes less engaged and their behavior and emotions are difficult to
control and manage.
- Encourage families to counter expressions of loss (“I miss soccer,” etc.) with feelings of hope (“Let’s look for the help-
ers”; “Would you like to help your classmates collect money for the food bank?”).
- Reach out to families and students to determine what methods of communication are most helpful for them and at
what time. When checking in, discuss what kinds of supports are typically offered to support their student’s academic
learning as well as regulation when at school. Consider offering virtual office hours for students and caregivers.
- Remember that it may have been a long time since caregivers were in school. Consider creating clear daily lists of work
for students, with easy-to-follow instructions. Caregivers are not familiar with the jargon and acronyms that normally
used with students and colleagues, so try to keep instructions jargon-free.
- Ask caregivers to partner with you. Encourage them to contact you with their needs and special circumstances so that
you can develop any work-around that might accommodate their work schedules or home situations.
- Caregivers can also be tremendous resources as we all are adjusting to this pandemic. Share your needs with themand ask for suggestions, resources for yourself or for less-resourced families, or ideas for learning activities or web-
sites that could be shared with the class. Those who are able to contribute ideas or resources will feel valued by the
- Suggest that families develop life skills such as cooking or gardening, as alternate learning options to promote feel-
ings of control over themselves and their environment as well as feelings of competence and self worth. Perhaps givestudents opportunities to share these life skills they are learning at home with others in their class too.
- Express gratitude and humility to families for inviting educators to “enter their home.
Administrators can consider the following strategies for partnering with families to enhance the learning and overall well-being
of students and their families:
- Send and reinforce the message that schools and families “are in this together.” This can be reinforced by a school’s
efforts to continue to feed students and families in need, make learning materials available, and increase access to
- Make the most of this unique opportunity to forge new bonds with families who may not have partnered with schools
in the past. This is an opportunity for caregivers to see that the school cares about the well-being of their child, and
for the school to appreciate the efforts of caregivers to reinforce academic goals. Schools will have greater insight into
their students’ home lives, and caregivers will better understand the daily work that schools do to educate their child.
- Be flexible and understanding if families have difficulties meeting the requests of schools related to their child’s ed-
ucation. Consider holding a virtual town hall and provide other opportunities for families to provide input into what isworking and what is challenging for them at this time.
- Consider surveying families to better determine how they are doing, what their needs are, and how schools can support
them as they support their child achieve their educational goals.
- Seek and utilize input from a wide range of families on important COVID-19-related decisions such as when and how
to re-open a school and with what precautions, how to honor important milestones usually celebrated in school, and to
help meet the needs of families in the school community. This might be done through virtual town halls or in smaller