Since the 2000s, there has been a growing interest in the study of school-family-community relationships, given their importance for school education. Numerous longitudinal studies, syntheses and meta-analyses have highlighted the positive impact of parental involvement and school-family relationships on children’s academic performance, as well as on other conative variables such as school motivation, students’ engagement in learning tasks or development of school-appropriate behaviors (see, for example, Axford et al, 2019; Englund et al., 2004; Kim, Mok & Seidel, 2020, Roy & Giraldo-García, 2018; Huat See & Gorard, 2015). Furthermore, given the great diversity of families encountered in Luxembourg and the importance given to partnership with families in the law of February 6, 2009 on the organization of elementary schools, this topic appears to be crucial for elementary school teachers in Luxembourg.
Within the “Partners” project, a research team conducted action research with a few volunteer teachers from four elementary schools. The goal of the collaborative research was to implement concrete actions in the schools to facilitate the school-family relationship. These projects were jointly designed, developed, and implemented by the researchers, the educational teams, the parents, and even other actors at the level of the school institution (e.g., the school board). In this kind of research, the team of researchers limited itself to the role of facilitator, supporting the reflection and implementation of the innovation decided by the actors in the field. The assumption was that the problems were more likely to be thoroughly investigated by the people who experience them on a daily basis. The results were immediately implementable and met the specific requirements of the school environment engaged in innovation. Finally, the actions benefited the students, their parents, and teachers. Like any action research, the project had a dual objective: to transform reality and to gain knowledge about these transformations. The intervention mechanism we proposed was to accompany educational teams in a sample of elementary school in a specific area: strengthening school-family-community relationships.
It is in this research context that the toolbox on school-family-community relations was developed. The toolbox is based on Epstein’s typology (2009). Action proposals have been developed for the six areas of the typology: Parenting, Communication, Volunteering, Learning at home, Decision Making and Community Collaboration.
The toolbox is designed for anyone interested in the relationship between school and family. Although we have worked more specifically in the context of elementary classes (cycle 3), the list of projects, created in collaboration with educational teams (teachers and parents), is intended to be an adaptable tool. With this in mind, we have established a set of guidelines to help teachers adapt the actions presented to the characteristics of their teaching environment. In short, this toolkit is not intended to be a “ready-to-use kit”, but rather a “guide” for transposing experiences from one situation to another.