Communicating with Families

Does engaging families matter?

Research repeatedly shows that family engagement has a noticeably positive effect on student achievement and learning outcomes, and higher levels of family involvement show greater success for students (Grolnick & Slowiaczek, 1994; Halgunseth, 2009; Hill & Taylor, 2004). While we often see parental and family involvement decrease as a student moves up through middle and high school, family engagement continues to be a heavy predictor of achievement through adolescence (Epstein & Sanders, 2002; Hill & Taylor, 2004).

Family engagement increases social capital and unifies teachers & families, allowing students to receive consistent messages that increase competence, motivation to learn, and engagement in school (Grolnick & Slowiaczek, 1994).

Teacher speaking with familiy


Keeping families informed

Family leaving the school building in the afternoonThere are many tools for informing families about what is happening in the classroom and how their student is progressing. Consider the purpose of your communication to determine which communication approach and tool is right for you, your students, and their families. 

In SFUSD, we carefully protect student privacy, which includes images of students or their work. Check out our best practices for sharing pictures from your classroom or of student work with families.

General classroom updates in the form of newsletters or digital postcards

Student-specific communications

Organizing family participation

Adults working together on a projectAnother way to include families is to invite them to participate in your classroom. While this can mean inviting them to an actual event happening in the classroom, it can also mean leveraging their expertise or experiences in your instruction to create partnerships.


Epstein, J. L., & Sanders, M. G. (2002). Family, School, and Community Partnerships. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), Practical Issues in Parenting: Handbook of Parenting (2nd ed., Vol. 5, pp. 407-438). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Grolnick, W. S., & Slowiaczek, M. L. (1994). Parents' involvement in children's schooling: A multidimensional conceptualization and motivational model. Child Development, 65(1), 237-252.

Halgunseth, L. (2009). Family engagement, diverse families, and an integrated review of the literature. Young Children, 64(5), 56-58.

Hill, N. E., & Taylor, L. C. (2004). Parental school involvement and children's academic achievement: Pragmatics and issues. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13(4), 161-164.

This page was last updated on March 9, 2021