Today’s post comes from Zeno’s Jennifer Gaer. As Program Director, Jennifer works with school partners to ensure they have the tools and support they need to launch new opportunities for family engagement including Family Math Night and MathWays Family Workshops.

As a full-time working mom of two active daughters, I serve as chauffer, house cleaner, animal caregiver, cook, nurse and referee. I have to admit oftentimes getting dinner on the table at the end of the day is about all the family engagement I can muster. And sometimes it’s a PBJ—does that even count?

We all know there is a strong body of research that shows students do better in school and in life when their parents are engaged in their education. But what exactly constitutes family engagement and how can I incorporate it into my crazy household?

By definition, family engagement includes anything that better prepares students to learn. Pretty broad definition, I’m sure I’ve got it in my house somewhere… but certainly not in the traditional sense.

Family engagement in the traditional sense involves volunteering in classrooms, in the school office, and on field trips. Family members tutor students, act as mentors or reading buddies, serve on the PTA, raise funds for the school and help write grants. And I am completely and unequivocally grateful for every hour of time those family members give to student learning. However, this mom doesn’t have that kind of time, so family engagement looks different at our house. Family engagement at our house includes talking about the school day, reviewing homework, proofreading essays and poems, writing checks for field trips, playing cards after dinner to practice math facts, and watching and discussing a documentary together.

I heart familyFamily engagement comes in many forms, shapes and sizes, and varies from family to family. As parents, the most important thing we can do for our kids is to reinforce the value of education and support their learning in a way that makes sense for our household.

As for PBJs for dinner…if that gives us a chance to talk about what we learned that day, I’d say it counts for something!

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