Handbook of Psychological Services for Children and Adolescents

By Jan N. Hughes; Annette M. La Greca et al. | Go to book overview

22
Enhancing Constructive
Family-School Connections
SANDRA L. CHRISTENSON
YVONNE GODBER

An essential prerequisite for delivering psychological services for children and youth is an understanding of the power of the family-school relationship for child and adolescent outcomes. Whether family-school relationships are described as parent involvement, family-school partnerships, family support, or family-centered practices, the goals are to enhance success for students and to improve learning opportunities and outcomes for children and youth, including those that are academic, social, emotional, and behavioral in nature. Family-school interventions address both child-specific and system-level concerns and are primarily viewed as a preventive activity. However, family and school are two systems, albeit essential for children's development, that are used to operating autonomously. Family-school relationships are not synonymous with parent-teacher relationships. According to the Family Resource Coalition (1993), comprehensive programs consist of school readiness, parent involvement that empowers parents to take a role in education across grades K–12, and school-linked services designed to improve achievement by ensuring that the health and social needs of children are met. Smrekar (1994) noted that policymakers and educators have mostly ignored the nature of interactions between families and schools, concluding that this relationship was “the missing link in school-linked social service programs” (p. 422).

Despite many investigations of the impact of family-school relationships on children's learning in the past two decades, it is still considered an unresolved relationship (Christenson, 2000). However, regardless of the model selected (e.g., Comer, Haynes, Joyner, & Ben-Avie, 1996; Epstein, 1995a; Swap, 1993), successful

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