Australia’s national education evidence body

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There is a great deal of evidence that families play a critical role in their child’s early learning and development. So how can early childhood education and care (ECEC) practitioners best work with families for learning?

This guide makes recommendations based on the best available research evidence about how early childhood services with 3-5 year-olds can engage with families to enhance children’s early learning and development1. It sets out ‘promising’ and ‘not promising’ approaches drawn from multiple studies which have measured the effects of different strategies. While there is room for improvements in the quality of available research evidence2, these approaches provide ‘best bets’ for guiding practice. This guide also sets out next steps for early childhood services and practitioners to consider how the findings are relevant to them.

Note that some of the examples offered may not apply in all contexts. Reasonable adjustments should be made where necessary to ensure full access and participation for all families.

Promising

Research evidence shows these approaches for engaging with families have a measurable positive effect on the learning and development of 3-5 year-olds when implemented well. All of these approaches reinforce standard practice within the National Quality Framework.

Not promising

Research evidence shows these approaches may have no effect or, in some cases, even have a negative effect on children’s learning and development.

Where to next?

Consider which of the following scenarios most closely resembles your current practices.

For more information

This is a very short summary of recommendations drawn from the research evidence. To check how we synthesised the most rigorous and relevant approaches from meta-analyses, systematic reviews and primary studies, see the following:

Brief methodology

This explainer describes the process we followed to synthesise the available research evidence on family engagement.
Learn more

Detailed methodology

This detailed methodology describes the processes we followed to synthesise the available research evidence on family engagement for learning.

Family engagement practice guides

Practice guides for practitioners about engaging with families to support children's early learning and development and students' learning outcomes.
Learn more

Annotated reference list

Research evidence cited in the family engagement practice guides is provided in this list.

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