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Hotspot for Families Learning Blog


Do you have an effective or innovative way of addressing challenges families face in education? Have learning strategies or resources to share with your peers? Apply to present at the 2019 Families Learning Conference!

The National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) is calling on our network and peers to submit presentation proposals reflecting best practices in engaging families in education.

This Call for Proposals closes 11:59 pm PST Friday, March 1, 2019—only two weeks away!

Detailed information including key dates, content strands, selection criteria, and presenter requirements can be found at

Share your success with your peers from across the country, and be part of an uplifting, celebratory event as NCFL celebrates our 30th anniversary—apply to become a Families Learning Conference presenter today!


“I can’t! This is too hard! I’m never going to get it.” Most educators have heard these phrases. They’re the words of a learner who has low self-efficacy. Self-efficacy, a person’s perception of whether they are capable of success in a particular task, influences motivation, endurance and ultimately, success.

As practitioners, we value the impact of self-efficacy on the success of the families we serve. All parents want to help their children succeed--in school and in life. Many, however, believe they lack the skills and knowledge to do so. As federal law directs schools to build parent capacity for involvement in education, promoting parents’ self-efficacy in supporting their children’s learning must be a primary focus of any family-centered instructional plan.

A 2012 NCFL study examined seven high-performing Toyota Family Literacy Programs (TFLP) across the United States. In this study, we see the positive impact of TFLPs on parents’ self-efficacy. The study found that TFLP parents demonstrated increased confidence in their abilities to support their children’s learning and heightened involvement in school programming.

The multigenerational nature of learning includes the impact on self-efficacy. It should be no surprise that increased self-efficacy in TFLP parents to support learning led to improved self-efficacy in their children to learn. Children whose parents took part in one of these seven high-performing TFLPs demonstrated increased confidence and academic achievement, alongside their parents, as reported by their teachers.

How can educators target self-efficacy? Some would say it’s one element that can’t be taught. The NCFL study found that TFLP instruction did, in fact, increase self-efficacy in both parents and children. Five instructional strategies to positively impact self-efficacy are:

  • Metacognition. Teach family members to understand their own knowledge and thought processes.
  • High Expectations. Hold parents to high standards and encourage them to do the same for their children.
  • Goal-Setting. Oversee multigenerational learners as they create realistic, actionable, and measurable goals.
  • Scaffolding. Model skills and support families through opportunities for success.
  • Recognizing and Reinforcing Success. Acknowledge achievements and identify the strategies learners used to reach success.

It’s important to note that these strategies are not intended to be used in a vacuum. Rather, they build on and complement each other in successful family-centered instruction. Stay tuned as we explore each of these strategies for promoting self-efficacy in more depth.

What strategies can you add to our list? Drop them in the comments below.

Spring is a time for new growth. This spring, you are invited to grow your skill set by attending the following webinars provided by the National Center for Families Learning and our partners. Check out our upcoming lineup and be sure to register!

Creating Space for Advocacy Conversations |March 8, 2019, 2:00-3:00 p.m. EDT

Advocacy is a key component to family and parent leadership. It’s important to create a space that is conducive to allowing families to identify those pressing issues that most impact their communities. 

Many times, creating this space begins with conversations around race and equity and allowing families to speak openly about how they view the injustices in their communities. If parents have the freedom and space to share their experiences with injustice, they can begin acting towards advocacy efforts. 

This session will cover trust and community-building exercises and frameworks for conversations about race and equity as tools for advocacy efforts.

Presenter: Rosa Guzman-Snyder, Director of Community Development, National Center for Families Learning

Registration link:

Developmental Relationships Framework |April 12, 2019, 2:00-3:00 p.m. EDT

Relationships are too important to leave to chance. Search Institute’s research suggests that when young people experience relationships with adults that are characterized by five essential elements, their attitudes, behaviors, and outcomes are better, and their risk behaviors are lower. Educators, youth workers, parents, and other adults can use Search Institute’s new Developmental Relationships Framework to transform the connections they build

with and among young people. During this webinar we will share some of the lessons that Search Institute is

learning about creating youth-serving organizations where developmental relationships thrive.

Presenters: Fatima Muhammad, Director of Youth & Family Solutions, and Gene Roehlkepartain, Vice President of Research and Development, Search Institute

Registration link:

Camp Wonderopolis: Explore the Wonderverse |May 10, 2019, 2:00-3:00 p.m. EDT

Find out how Camp Wonderopolis can be an engaging digital tool for your programming anytime of the year. Our free website and app help bring families together with curious questions, interesting articles, and hands-on learning activities. This webinar will show you how to make the most of the features of the site and our free app.

Presenter: John MacLeod, Community Manager, Wonderopolis, National Center for Families Learning

Registration link:

Celebrations have occurred. New Year’s resolutions have been made. New planners and calendars have been purchased. It may take a little more practice to write the date as 2019, but you are almost there. Congratulations! You have successfully crossed over to 2019!

The start of a new year is a transition. Transitions are changes in people’s lives. Some transitions are small while others are major. Big transitions, such as starting a new job or moving to a new home, require planning and preparation.

A major transition for children and families is the move from early childhood settings to elementary school. Research indicates that families’ and children’s kindergarten transition experiences shape their views of school. These experiences can have short-term and long-term impacts on children’s emotional, social, and academic development.

Early childhood and elementary school staff can prepare families and their children for transition to kindergarten--and January is a good time to focus on this process. The goal is for children and families to have a positive, smooth experience. Below are some suggestions  that support kindergarten transition:

  • Teamwork. Create a team that consists of parents and/or caregivers, early childhood and kindergarten staff, and other educational staff who support children and their families. Create a kindergarten transition plan together that best meets children’s and families’ needs.
  • Listen to families. Find out what they know about school choice and registration processes in your community. Provide support to help families navigate the choices and to complete enrollment forms if it is needed..
  • Encourage families to tour elementary schools. The differences between early childhood settings and elementary schools is unexpected for many families, especially if the child going to kindergarten is their oldest. Encourage parents and caregivers to schedule tours at elementary schools during the school day so that they can see meet school staff, see the building, and observe school routines first-hand.
  • Host a kindergarten transition family event. Share information with families about kindergarten readiness benchmarks in your community. Set up stations so families can practice at-home learning strategies. Focus on basic skills that families can do at home like zipping, name writing, and book handling.

The transition to kindergarten is a major change for young children and their families. Educators can help them plan and prepare to make the change a positive experience. How does your school or program support the transition to kindergarten? Share your ideas in the space below. Each person who comments will receive a free PDF copy of NCFL’s Kindergarten Transition Reading List for families.

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