How do you know if your school is "family friendly" and why does it matter?

How family friendly is your school? How do you know?

Sometimes it's really easy to overlook things that may be unintended barriers to family engagement because seeing them day after day can make them invisible to you. One way to address this is to have a welcoming walk-through of the building. How will families and community members engage with school leaders and staff in the process?

Henderson, Mapp, Johnson, & Davies suggest that even before families enter the school building, they're looking for signs that they will be welcomed:

  • friendly signs (in all major languages spoken by families at the school) point out the entrance and say that families and visitors are welcome;
  • parking spots for parents and visitors are clearly marked and are near (or at least not very far from) the entrance;
  • school staff and parents greet visitors in a friendly way and ask if they can help;
  • teachers, administrators, and other school staff go outside the building to greet and talk with parents.

Once inside the building, how welcoming is it? What do you see? What impressions do you come away with? And, once you have identified barriers, what's the process for removing them?