Garden City USD 457 got a report on the difference between parent engagement and parent involvement at Monday’s board of education meeting.

Monica Diaz, coordinator of ELL and Literacy, said the difference between the two is engagement is “empowering partnership among families, educators and practitioners in the community with shared responsibilities for the personal success of children.”

Involvement is when parents participate in activities to promote building relationships, Diaz said.

Examples of family engagement is Literacy Night, sharing state standards for content areas and family visits during instruction time.

Involvement examples are Doughnuts with Dads, Muffins with Moms, Fun Night, Movie Night and eating lunch with children at school.

Mary Karlin, community liaison and Link Grant facilitator, said both are important to a child’s education.

Through reseach by Scholastic, with whom USD 457 partners for some training, found that engagement has a bigger effect on school success than typical family involvement activities, Karlin said.

“Engagement takes a true commitment from the schools and the parents,” she said. “In engagement there's more of a joint decision-making process, you plan for the future of the student together.”

Karlin said that’s important because documentation shows that children of engaged parents “earn higher grades, higher test scores, they have better attendance, they have fewer placements in special education, they have more positive attitudes at school and towards learning and they have higher graduation rates.”

Parent involvement can actually grow into engagement, Karlin said, because both require building relationships. The families just need support from the educators and schools to help grow those relationships.

Karlin said the school district’s goal is to build the relationship with families to move forward.

“The people that were trained need to go back to their schools and find a way to have family engagement activities,” she said. “They might just want to start with a literacy night and build in some learning to that, so the parents are learning what the kids are learning.”