Engaging Caregivers: A Shared Vision for Collaborative Education


BISMARCK, N.D. — Parents and caregivers of school-aged children truly want to be seen, heard, and involved with what goes on in their kids’ classrooms. This insight emerged from the Engage Every Family Conference, held earlier this year at North Dakota’s Gateway to Science, where esteemed education expert Dr. Steve Constantino, author of the best-selling book “Engage Every Family: Five Simple Principles,” shed light on this transformative aspect of caregiving involvement.

Caregivers Overwhelmingly Seek Involvement in their Child’s Education

Contrary to prevailing assumptions that many caregivers choose to remain uninvolved in their children’s education, research conducted by the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education revealed that a mere 1% of caregivers fall into this category. The COVID-19 pandemic compelled caregivers to step into the role of educational supporters as schools closed and remote learning became the norm, effectively activating their innate desire to contribute.

“It turned the switch on,” he said.

Parents and caregivers who have a strong desire to engage in their children’s education may possess untapped potential and simply require guidance to effectively contribute. Waterford.org Senior Director of Curriculum Julie Christensen said. “We need to be able to help them understand how they can help,” she said.

Engaging Caregivers in Education Requires Ongoing Collaboration

Educators have a role to play in keeping caregivers involved, Christensen continued. The circumstances of families vary, so educators have unique opportunities to find new ways to engage them, she added.

The science of reading provides a natural springboard for creating authentic family engagement, Christensen said. Caregivers who understand the why and how regarding the way a child’s brain processes letters and their accompanying sounds are empowered to reinforce at home what their kids are learning in school, she explained.

Echoing this sentiment, Kirsten Baesler, North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction, acknowledged the expressed concerns of families who feel unheard and unsupported. “For a variety of reasons, our families are feeling like they are not getting what they need. Our families are telling us they want to be engaged, and they feel like they’re not being heard.”

Dr. Constantino emphasized the distinction between merely communicating with caregivers and truly engaging with them.

“Those are two very different things,” he said.

Moving forward, Baesler said it is imperative to cultivate an environment of collaboration, actively involving caregivers as valued partners in the educational journey of their children. By embracing this shared vision, we can unlock the immense potential within each caregiver and build meaningful bridges between homes and classrooms.


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