Changing the Paradigm for Early Family Engagement

October 30, 2013

Source: eJewish Philanthropy 


At The Jewish Education Project, we are convening a New York Coalition of Family Engagement Innovators to share best practices and spread a new relationship paradigm of early family engagement. These educators represent a cross section of innovating institutions and organizational leaders in the community who are engaging families 0-5. Together with those in the Coalition we are discussing the opportunities and challenges of relationship models, and have been searching for resources that could support us in developing the skills that practitioners need to make this transition.


So far we have identified the following other disciplines that we believe can support our practice and shift the paradigm to put relationship development at the core of our work:

  • Market Research and Design Thinking can teach us principles and techniques to improve our skills of empathetic observation and questioning. This would enable us to get better at uncovering what parents do in their everyday lives that reveal their real values and desires.

  • Hospitality and Food Services industry can teach us how to offer unparalleled hospitality.

  • Community Organizing can offer powerful methodologies that shift our efforts from starting with creating programs to holding conversations that uncover passions and put parent’s priorities at the core of every initiative. These conversations can build relationships, connect parents to one another, and then empower them to design and co-construct meaningful experiences.

We believe it is time for our institutions and communities invested in early family engagement to shift to a relationship paradigm and to value and invest in strategies that will train our leaders and practitioners in relationship building as their main practice. Our plan is to support and facilitate robust networking among practitioners; utilize multiple platforms to spread innovative relationship building models; offer training by specialists in essential skills that come from the disciplines outlined above; and continue research with families to begin to measure impact. We are seeking partners and funding necessary to build this capacity. We believe this approach will lead to a monumental change in the practice of early family engagement and the lives of parents with young children so that next year our story of early family engagement will be different.


Read more at eJewish Philanthropy.

Updated: Nov. 20, 2013