Communication is a key element of family engagement. DYCD providers should be striving for program-family interactions that are strong and positive. The more we can be intentional about communicating with families- thinking about how, when, where and what we communicate- the more likely it is that we will enhance our family engagement efforts.
The best communication involves multiple channels that connect families, programs, participants, and communities. Just as you need to be considerate when gathering information from families, it is critical that you do the same when sharing information with families. Information should be shared in a respectful way, considering the families’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Remember to avoid jargon, acronyms, or terminology that families may not understand. A family newsletter can be an integral piece of your program-to-home communication.
Newsletters are an easy way of building community, providing busy families with information, and supporting family engagement. Check out Manhattan Youth’s, A DYCD Funded Afterschool SONYC Program, family newsletter sample 1 and sample 2.
- Have a group of contributors with a point person in charge of organizing the contributions into one newsletter.
- Plan the details of the newsletter in advance. Things to discuss and agree upon are purpose, publishing schedule, languages, number of copies, and means for distribution to families.
- Highlight families’ successes and contributions, share photos of programs and examples of the participants work.
- Provide tips and resources that are helpful to families including websites, articles, events, and services.
- Develop a schedule of organization and community activities that support families’ well-being, i.e. – tax prep clinics in February; Holiday gifts in December, SYEP applications in February, showcases in December, summer family resources in June and back to school in August
- Keep the newsletter simple, attractive, and easy to read. A single-page format will make it more likely that families will read it and stay informed.