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Working with Hispanic Families . Developed by Dr. Judith A. M á rquez Dr. Laurie R. Weaver University of Houston-Clear Lake. Objectives. At the end of this module, the participant will be able to: Identify ways to address possible barriers to family involvement for Hispanics.

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Working with hispanic families

Working with Hispanic Families

Developed by

Dr. Judith A. Márquez

Dr. Laurie R. Weaver

University of Houston-Clear Lake


  • At the end of this module, the participant will be able to:

    • Identify ways to address possible barriers to family involvement for Hispanics.

    • Identify essential elements of literacy projects involving Hispanic families.

Parent involvement
Parent Involvement

  • What does parent involvement mean to you?

  • Discuss your definition with a partner.

  • Compare your definition with the one that appears in the next slide.

Parent involvement1
Parent Involvement

  • The participation of parents in regular, two-way, meaningful communication involving students’ academic learning and other school activities (NCLB, 2002).

Parent involvement2
Parent Involvement

  • Includes ensuring that:

    • parents play an integral role in assisting their child’s learning;

    • parents are encouraged to be actively involved in their child’s education at school;

    • parents are full partners in their child’s education and are included, as appropriate, in decision making and on advisory committees to assist in the education of their child (NCLB, 2002).

Parent involvement3
Parent Involvement

  • “Family” has replaced “parent”

  • Options for involvement have expanded beyond “big three”

    • volunteer

    • homework helper

    • fund-raiser

Why is family involvement important
Why is family involvement important?

Evidence that family involvement leads to:

improved student achievement,

better school attendance, and

reduced dropout rates.

Improvements occur regardless of the economic, racial, or cultural background of the family (Flaxman & Inger, 1991).

Importance of family involvement
Importance of Family Involvement

  • When families, communities and schools form partnerships to enable children’s learning, everyone benefits

    • schools work better,

    • families become closer,

    • community resources thrive, and

    • students improve academically.

Family involvement
Family Involvement

  • Helps bridge the gap between home and school for the child

  • Helps children function in a school setting where shared goals and values develop

Research in family involvement
Research in Family Involvement

  • 1. Partnerships tend to decline across the grades unless schools work to develop and implement appropriate partnerships at each grade level;

Research in family involvement1
Research in Family Involvement

  • 2. Affluent communities have more positive family involvement unless schools in economically distressed communities work to build positive partnerships with students’ families;

Research in family involvement2
Research in Family Involvement

  • 3. Schools in more economically depressed communities make more contacts with families about problems unless they work at developing balanced programs that include contacts about positive accomplishments;

Research in family involvement3
Research in Family Involvement

  • 4. Unless the school organizes opportunities for families to volunteer, single parents, parents who are employed outside the home, parents who live far from the school, and fathers are less involved;

Research in family involvement4
Research in Family Involvement

  • 5. Just about all families care about their children, want them to succeed, and are eager to obtain better information from schools and communities;

Research in family involvement5
Research in Family Involvement

  • 6. Just about all teachers and administrators would like to involve families, but many do not know how to build positive and productive programs and are fearful about trying.

Research in family involvement6
Research in Family Involvement

  • 7. Just about all students at all levels want their families to be more knowledgeable partners about schooling and are willing to take active roles in assisting communications between home and school.

Need to increase hispanic family involvement in schools
Need to Increase Hispanic Family Involvement in Schools

  • 40% of Hispanic children live in poverty.

  • Hispanics are most under-educated major segment of the U.S. population.

  • Many Hispanic children enter kindergarten lacking in language development and facility, regardless of L1.

Barriers to family involvement
Barriers to Family Involvement

  • What are some of the barriers to family involvement for Hispanic families?

  • Discuss your ideas with a partner.

  • Compare your ideas with the ones that appears in the next slide.

Barriers to family involvement1
Barriers to Family Involvement

  • Language differences

  • Beliefs that the roles of home and school are sharply delineated

  • Past negative experiences with education

  • A negative view of the school system

Understanding the barriers
Understanding the Barriers

  • Family members may not speak the language of the school.

  • Boundary between school and home is due to respect for teachers’ authority

  • Trusting the teacher can interfere with families becoming advocates for their children.

Overcoming the barriers
Overcoming the Barriers

  • How can the barriers to family involvement be overcome?

  • Discuss your ideas with a partner.

  • Compare your ideas with the ones that appears in the next slide.

Overcoming the barriers1
Overcoming the Barriers

  • Communication

    • Bilingual staff, telephone calls and written communication available in Spanish.

    • Home visits or visits at a neutral site offer less threatening environment.

    • Written correspondence not as effective as personal conference (Dauber & Epstein, 1993).

Overcoming the barriers2
Overcoming the Barriers

  • Meetings should be informal and based on the interests of the families, with transportation and child care provided.

  • Reduce the disparity between home and school.

Involving families in hispanic communities
Involving Families in Hispanic Communities

  • Connecting

  • Sharing information

  • Staying involved (Delgado-Gaitán, 2004)

Connecting with hispanic families
Connecting with Hispanic Families

  • Educators initiate contact to enlist family participation in school programs.

  • Reach out to families in a language they understand.

Sharing information
Sharing Information

  • A two-way process

  • Need to share with families what is happening in the school

  • Need to learn about the child’s experience in the family

Staying involved
Staying Involved

  • An ongoing process

  • Staying involved = long-term goal

  • More than one event or one day

Sustaining family involvement requires
Sustaining Family InvolvementRequires

  • A commitment to open, continuous, two-way communication with families

  • Receptive attitudes and practices of teachers and principals (Dauber & Epstein, 1993).

Hispanic policy development project hpdp
Hispanic Policy Development Project (HPDP)

  • Conducted a nationwide grant program to promote and test strategies to increase Hispanic parental involvement in the schooling of their children

Hpdp findings
HPDP Findings

  • "All the schools that felt that poor Hispanic parents should begin their involvement by joining the existing parents' organizations failed" (Nicolau & Ramos, 1990, p. 18).

  • Before joining existing parent organizations, Hispanic parents want to acquire skills and confidence to contribute as equals.

Hpdp conclusions based on 42 projects
HPDP Conclusions – Based on 42 Projects

  • Overcoming the barriers between schools and Hispanic parents does not require large amounts of money;

  • Requires personal outreach, non-judgmental communication, and respect for parents' feelings.

  • Hispanic school personnel can facilitate the process, but non-Hispanics can also be effective.

Making it easier for families to participate
Making it easier for Families to Participate

  • Examine the next slide. Think about your school and the recommendations made by the HPDP.

  • Which of the recommendations could be easily implemented at your school?

  • Which ones would be more challenging to implement? Why?

Recommendations from hpdp
Recommendations from HPDP

  • Make it easy for families to participate.

    • Bilingual programs and materials

    • Child care

    • No fees

    • Times and locations of meetings convenient for parents

    • Interpreters and transportation

    • Face-to-face conversations with parents in their primary language

Partnerships with families
Partnerships with Families

  • Represent a major shift for schools from merely delivering services to students to taking active, integrated roles that validate the cultural and social experiences of families.

Establishing partnerships
Establishing Partnerships

  • Hold the first meetings outside of school, preferably at sites that are familiar to the families.

  • Make first meetings social events; unsuccessful ones are formal events at school, with information aimed "at" the families

Establishing partnerships1
Establishing Partnerships

  • To retain the involvement of low-income Hispanic families, every meeting has to respond to some needs or concerns of the families.

  • Programs that consult with families regarding agendas and meeting formats and begin with the families' agenda eventually cover issues that the school considers vital.

  • Programs that stick exclusively to the school's agenda lose the families.

Establishing partnerships2
Establishing Partnerships

  • Ongoing partnerships need evaluation and checkpoints to see if goals and objectives are being met and if goals and objectives are still appropriate.

  • Keeping programs flexible helps everyone adjust to changes within the student body, families, the school staff, and the community.

Partnerships with families1
Partnerships with Families

  • Require all participants to share responsibility for educational outcomes.

  • Need to ask families for their ideas.

  • Meet with family and community representatives to define goals.

  • Develop a plan for family and community involvement.

Family involvement projects
Family Involvement Projects

  • Training programs - help family members build self-esteem, improve communication skills, & conduct activities that improve children's study habits.

Family literacy programs
Family Literacy Programs

  • Training to enable families to support the educational growth of their children (e.g., Project Even Start).

Family literacy programs1
Family Literacy Programs

  • Provide literacy classes for both children and their family members.

  • Are based on notion that literacy, due to social and cultural nature, is best developed within context of the family.

Family literacy programs should include
Family Literacy Programs should include:

  • Interactive literacy activities between family members and children

  • Training for family members on how to be the children’s primary teacher and full partners in their education

  • Family literacy training that leads to economic self-sufficiency

  • Age appropriate education to prepare children for success in school and life experiences.

Characteristics of successful programs
Characteristics of Successful Programs

  • Address families' personal goals

  • Value families' home languages

  • View families from a resource model rather than a deficit model

Characteristics of successful programs1
Characteristics of Successful Programs

  • Provide families access to information and resources that will encourage success for children

  • Encourage shared literacy experiences in homes rather than imposing a school-like transfer of skills from parent to child

Neglected aspects of family literacy programs
Neglected Aspects of Family Literacy Programs

  • Working independently on reading & writing

  • Addressing family & community problems

  • Addressing child-rearing concerns

  • Supporting development of home language & culture

  • Interacting with school system (Auerbach, 1989).

Establishing a family literacy program
Establishing a Family Literacy Program

  • First steps

    • Determine the needs of the participants and available resources

    • Establish collaborative relationships with other institutions and individuals

Establishing a family literacy program1
Establishing a Family Literacy Program

  • Class sites

    • Schools

    • Community centers

    • Churches

    • Adult education sites

  • Class times

    • Should be negotiated with the participants and program providers.

  • Transportation

    • Provide transportation, if necessary

Curriculum design
Curriculum Design

  • Should reflect needs of both adult and child participants.

  • Should be flexible

    • May offer instruction to

      • Adults only,

      • Adults and children together, or

      • Adults and children separately.

Language of instruction
Language of Instruction

  • Home language(s)

    • Reassure families that their linguistic abilities are strengths

    • Encourage family members to model literacy in their strongest language

Language of instruction1
Language of Instruction

  • Native language instruction ensures adequate learning opportunities.

  • Evidence that use of first language is pedagogically appropriate (Moll and Diaz 1987), especially for learners with limited literacy (Auerbach, 1993).

Esl classes for family literacy
ESL Classes for Family Literacy

  • Focus on need to negotiate lives in U.S.

  • May include English needed to assist children in school.

Esl classes for family literacy1
ESL Classes for Family Literacy

  • No ready-made books that fill range of interests and needs of families.

  • Instructional resources include

    • newspapers,

    • job applications,

    • food labels,

    • advertisements,

    • written materials from the community.

Esl classes for family literacy2
ESL Classes for Family Literacy

  • Other instructional resources include:

    • report cards

    • school permission slips

    • children's literature

  • Participants can also provide materials they would like to understand.

Esl classes for family literacy3
ESL Classes for Family Literacy

  • ESL educators must be sensitive to wide variety of previous experiences family members have had in schools, in first and second languages.


  • Individuals who

    • Are sensitive to diverse cultures

    • Have knowledge of adult and child literacy development and learning

    • Have previous experience working with community

    • Understand goals of program

Maintaining attendance involvement
Maintaining Attendance & Involvement

  • Provide a quality program that meets the needs of the participants.

  • Be flexible with attendance policies.

  • Provide opportunities for

    • socializing

    • sharing experiences & knowledge.

Program evaluation
Program Evaluation

  • Evaluation needed for

    • Continued funding

    • Appropriate adjustments

Program evaluation1
Program Evaluation

  • Attendance and attrition

  • Children's achievement

  • Adult participants’ achievement

  • Affective measures

    • Adult participants’ beliefs about roles in children's learning

    • Attitudes toward school

    • Confidence in helping children

Benefits of family literacy programs for adults
Benefits of Family Literacy Programs for Adults

  • Stay enrolled longer than in most adult-only programs

  • Improve

    • Employment status

    • Self-confidence

    • Parenting skills

Benefits of family literacy programs for adults1
Benefits of Family Literacy Programs for Adults

  • Demonstrate positive changes in relationships with their children

  • Become more interested in continuing their education

  • Show more interest in and ability to participate in children’s education

Benefits of family literacy programs for children
Benefits of Family Literacy Programs for Children

  • Increase in reading books and visiting library

  • Improve

    • Literacy skills

    • Behavior

    • Ability to interact with other children

    • Ability to act independently of their mothers

Educators should
Educators should

  • Discard deficit model of working with families and operate on an enrichment model.

  • Show families that they are equally as important as the school,

  • Show students how important their homes and communities are.

  • Tap a rich source of cultural knowledge and personal experiences through their partnership with families.

Recommended approach to family involvement
Recommended Approach to Family Involvement

  • Focus on the relationship;

  • Recognize that collaboration is an attitude and not just an activity;

  • Create a vehicle to co-construct the bigger picture about children’s school performance and development;

  • Share information and resources;

  • Establish meaningful co-roles for the partners.

Recommended approach to family involvement1
Recommended Approach to Family Involvement

  • Effective family-school partnerships can be developed without a specific model, but careful analysis of “goodness of fit” must be made to meet needs of student, families, and teachers involved (Christenson & Sheridan, 2001) .

Recommended approach to family involvement2
Recommended Approach to Family Involvement

  • Partnerships based upon mutual respect and interdependence of home, school, and community are essential to children’s development(Christenson & Sheridan, 2001;McAfee (1987).

Benefits of family involvement
Benefits of Family Involvement

  • Improved academic achievement

  • Improved student behavior

  • Greater student motivation

  • More regular attendance

  • Lower student dropout rates

  • A more positive attitude toward homework (Hester, 1989)

Benefits for students families schools
Benefits for Students, Families, & Schools

  • Students whose parents are involved in their lives have higher graduation rates and greater enrollment rates in post-secondary education.

  • Educators hold higher expectations of students whose parents collaborate with the teacher. They also hold higher opinions of those parents.


“Families are essential, not just desirable” to the educational success of their children.

Follow up activity
Follow up Activity

  • Work in a small group to plan a family literacy event for your school. Address the following elements (see next slide also):

  • For whom is the event designed? (any parents, parents of children in a particular grade level, etc.)

  • When and where will the event be held?

Follow up activity1
Follow up Activity

  • Outline the event (opening activity, other activities, closure, etc.)

  • Who will present/lead the activities?

  • What school personnel/resources will you need to conduct this activity?

  • How will you encourage participation of Hispanic families?