Rationale and Research
We know the role of parents in supporting their child’s learning is a critical part of their success. Increasingly, research demonstrates a strong correlation between parent involvement and learning outcomes, and the importance of supportive networks for healthy development. Emerging research and practice increasingly align with a strength-based, orientation for capacity building. A profound opportunity to impact learning and support healthy development exists when parents have the necessary information or resources to support their child.
Bringing parents together in positively-oriented conversations offers a shared learning experience, a chance to build supportive networks and highlight locally relevant resources. The conversation café approach is becoming widely adopted as a first and critical step in community capacity building for social change across sectors. Parent Café has integrated elements of this approach as an avenue for parents to explore their own capacity to support learning and perhaps take steps together as they build relationships. more on appreciative inquiry and community conversations…
Why Parent Café?
- Parents play a critical role as their child’s “first and most important teacher.”
- There are often untapped strengths and assets in families, school and community that can be engaged to enhance learning.
- Meaningful conversation around shared issues can be an opportunity to build community – an important contributor to educational success and resilience in children.
- The amount of information and resources available for parents today can be overwhelming.
- Having a forum to share what’s working validates what parents are already doing well, and builds confidence and efficacy (the belief their children will succeed), which is linked to positive learning outcomes.
Parent Café is grounded in a framework that includes elements of systems theory, learning theories and understanding of capacity building and community development including:
- the strength-based, capacity building elements of asset-based community development (ABCD) (Kretzmann and McKnight, 2003).
- the consolidated research supporting the positive impact of family, school and community partnerships on learning outcomes. (J. Epstein et al, 2009)
- lessons learned from educational learning theory linking the benefits of community building in education (i.e. systems ecological theory, social constructivism and social motivation, social capital theory).
more research on parent engagement… Parents as Partners
Aligning with Education in Alberta
Parent Café is responsive to Alberta’s local educational context and developments in policy and practice that increasingly acknowledge the importance of family engagement and the need for community collaboration in support of student success. These documents illustrate the timely relevance of Alberta’s context aligning with the goals of a community-based capacity building approach for education.
- Alberta Education: Personalization of learning
- Alberta Education: Inspiring Action on Education
- Government of Alberta Social Policy Framework
- Living Literacy: A Literacy Framework for Alberta’s Next Generation Economy
- Literacy First: A Plan for Action