Working with
Hispanic Families
Developed by
Dr. Judith A. Márquez
Dr. Laurie R. Weaver
University of Houston-Clear Lake
Objectives

At the end of this module, the
participant will be able to:

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Identify ways to address possible barriers
to family involvement for Hispanics.
Identify essential elements of literacy
projects involving Hispanic families.
Parent Involvement

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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 Involvement

The participation of parents in regular,
two-way, meaningful communication
involving students’ academic learning
and other school activities (NCLB,
2002).
Parent Involvement

Includes ensuring that:

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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 Involvement

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“Family” has replaced “parent”
Options for involvement have
expanded
beyond “big three”
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volunteer
homework helper
fund-raiser
Why is family
involvement important?

Evidence that family involvement leads to:
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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

When families, communities and
schools form partnerships to enable
children’s learning, everyone benefits

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schools work better,
families become closer,
community resources thrive, and
students improve academically.
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

1. Partnerships tend to decline across
the grades unless schools work to
develop and implement appropriate
partnerships at each grade level;
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 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 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 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 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 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

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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. http://www.ericfacility.net/ericdigests/ed350380.html
Barriers to Family Involvement
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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 Involvement
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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
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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

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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 Barriers

Communication
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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 Barriers
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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
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Connecting
Sharing information
Staying involved (Delgado-Gaitán, 2004)
Connecting with
Hispanic Families
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Educators initiate contact to enlist
family participation in school programs.
Reach out to families in a language they
understand.
Sharing Information
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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
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An ongoing process
Staying involved = long-term goal
More than one event or one day
Sustaining Family Involvement
Requires
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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)

Conducted a nationwide grant program
to promote and test strategies to
increase Hispanic parental involvement
in the schooling of their children
HPDP Findings

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"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
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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

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
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
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Make it easy for families to participate.
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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

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
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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 Partnerships
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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 Partnerships
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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 Families
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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

Training programs - help family
members build self-esteem,
improve communication skills, &
conduct activities that improve
children's study habits.
Family Literacy Programs

Training to enable families to
support the educational growth of
their children (e.g., Project Even
Start).
Family Literacy Programs
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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:
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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 selfsufficiency
Age appropriate education to prepare children for
success in school and life experiences.
Characteristics of
Successful Programs
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Address families' personal goals
Value families' home languages
View families from a resource model
rather than a deficit model
Characteristics of
Successful Programs
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Provide families access to information
and resources that will encourage
success for children
Encourage shared literacy experiences
in homes rather than imposing a schoollike transfer of skills from parent to
child
Neglected Aspects of Family
Literacy Programs
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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
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First steps
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Determine the needs of the participants
and available resources
Establish collaborative relationships with
other institutions and individuals
Establishing a
Family Literacy Program
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Class sites
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Class times
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Schools
Community centers
Churches
Adult education sites
Should be negotiated with the participants and
program providers.
Transportation
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Provide transportation, if necessary
Curriculum Design
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Should reflect needs of both adult and
child participants.
Should be flexible
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May offer instruction to
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Adults only,
Adults and children together, or
Adults and children separately.
Language of Instruction
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Home language(s)
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Reassure families that their linguistic
abilities are strengths
Encourage family members to model
literacy in their strongest language
Language of Instruction
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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
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Focus on need to negotiate lives in U.S.
May include English needed to assist
children in school.
ESL Classes for Family Literacy
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No ready-made books that fill range of
interests and needs of families.
Instructional resources include
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newspapers,
job applications,
food labels,
advertisements,
written materials from the community.
ESL Classes for Family Literacy
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Other instructional resources include:
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report cards
school permission slips
children's literature
Participants can also provide materials
they would like to understand.
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.
Staffing

Individuals who
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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

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Provide a quality program that meets
the needs of the participants.
Be flexible with attendance policies.
Provide opportunities for

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socializing
sharing experiences & knowledge.
Program Evaluation

Evaluation needed for

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Continued funding
Appropriate adjustments
Program Evaluation

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Attendance and attrition
Children's achievement
Adult participants’ achievement
Affective measures

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Adult participants’ beliefs about roles in
children's learning
Attitudes toward school
Confidence in helping children
Benefits of Family Literacy
Programs for Adults
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Stay enrolled longer than in most adultonly programs
Improve
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Employment status
Self-confidence
Parenting skills
Benefits of Family Literacy
Programs for Adults
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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
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Increase in reading books and visiting
library
Improve
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Literacy skills
Behavior
Ability to interact with other children
Ability to act independently of their
mothers
Educators should
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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
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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 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 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
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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

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Students whose parents are involved in
their lives have higher graduation rates
and greater enrollment rates in postsecondary education.
Educators hold higher expectations of
students whose parents collaborate with
the teacher. They also hold higher
opinions of those parents.
Conclusion
“Families are essential, not just
desirable” to the educational success of
their children.
Follow up Activity

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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 Activity

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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?
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Family/Parent Involvement