As the omicron variant spreads across the world, families and schools are grappling with how to continue their children’s education. Tired of online learning and worried about safety, parents’ and teachers’ patience is being heavily tested. In many communities around the world, COVID-19 has already led to increasingly divisive family-school relationships. In politically polarized communities in the U.S., some schools are facing hostile parents on both sides of the masking debate, turning school board meetings into shouting matches. In Italy and the United Kingdom, angered parents protest school closures and calls for school children to get vaccinated.

For the past three years, I have been studying family-school collaboration. Together with my colleagues and partners, we have surveyed nearly 25,000 parents and 6,000 teachers in 10 countries and delved into the “why” and “how” of building strong relationships and effective collaboration. This collaboration resulted in the Center for Universal Education’s (CUE) hands-on resource “Collaborating to improve and transform education systems: A playbook for family-school engagement,” which is designed to help education leaders—and families themselves—find a path toward a new, more constructive way of working together. It also offers insight on why frustration in some communities between families and schools has bubbled over and how to fix it.

Below are five key insights from the playbook.

  1. Lean into family-school collaboration, not hope things “return to normal”
  2. Don’t blame teachers and school leaders, train them  
  3. Bring schools to families, not just families to schools
  4. Build trust by engaging parents, not just involving them
  5. Make time to have an intentional conversation about what makes for a good education

Read the full article about improving family-school collaborations by Rebecca Winthrop at Brookings.