Family Partnerships: More than just family events

When we think about family partnerships, most of us immediately think about family involvement. Family involvement is when families participate in activities and take advantage of opportunities in their child’s early learning setting. Family partnerships are more than just family events.

children playing with musical instruments with family members - Family Partnerships in early childhood education is more than just family events
children playing with musical instruments with family members

Family Involvement vs. Family Engagement

Family involvement includes open house events, special celebrations like a picnic, and parent/teacher conferences. Building a family partnership, all begins with family involvement. But quickly, this involvement becomes family engagement when we welcome ideas and listen to our family’s needs and thoughts. Family engagement is our ongoing process of respectful and responsive relationships between educators and families.

As we build our relationships with families, we can partner with them in decision-making and advocacy. When we partner with families, research tells us that children benefit. According to the A.E. Casey Foundation, the more we nurture positive relationships with families and build a significant partnership, the more children thrive. 

Parent partnerships with early childhood educators can set the stage for a lifelong love of learning. Research shows that the more connected parents feel to their children’s education, the more their own family dynamics are impacted. Parents begin to have more reasonable expectations of a child’s development, learning, and growth. Parents are supportive in motivating behavior and learning. And there is a direct connection between family partnerships and graduation rates in high school.

Family Partnerships: More than just family events

Building a solid partnership in early childhood begins with getting to know your families. Using Experience Curriculum, you can start your process using the Family Questionnaire. 

You can also ask families to contribute photos of their family to your program displays. Creating a family board shows families that they belong in your program.

Creating an area specifically for families provides an environment of belongingness. Adding in community resources for families on other community resources or agencies that may support the family shows the families that you are interested in their involvement in your program and their overall well-being. 

Family partnerships take time, but the more you get to know the families you serve, the more you strengthen your relationship with them. 

Please find more information on Family Engagement and Partnership on our Training Institute.  

Kathy Banks

Kathy Banks, Educator Support Specialist for Experience Early Learning, has 35 years of early childhood education experience. She has held various positions, including teacher, director, multi-site director, Head Start director, CCR&R, and QRIS Director. She currently adjuncts at several colleges and universities and continues to support and inspire educators through training and practical strategies. Kathy is working on her dissertation to complete her Ed.D. in Early Childhood Education. Kathy is also a nationally certified Family and Consumer Science Developmental Educator.  Her experience and education make her a scholarly expert in child development and the realities and challenges of teaching and directing every day. 


Annie E Casey Foundation. (2022). Parent Engagement and Learning. 

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