When Universal Family Engagement is the Solution

Universal family engagement is the solution blog header

Turning challenges into opportunities for connection

Written by Paige DeLozier


Educators, students, and their families face challenges every day from academic frustration to attendance issues to mental health concerns. What if we told you there is one solution that has the potential to impact each of these areas positively and more?

Connecting with families in meaningful partnerships is an often overlooked but essential driver of student success. Research shows family engagement is twice as effective in predicting a student’s success as their family’s socioeconomic status. To quote TalkingPoints Founder and CEO, “Families are the game-changer.”


Challenging times

In a January 24th edWebinar, we asked educators from across the country what challenges they face concerning student success and this is what they said. 

At first, the word cloud populated so quickly that it was difficult to keep up. But at second glance, many of the challenges listed are not only related but also readily connected to students’ families.

teacher challenges word cloud

Upon that realization, we took a few of the challenges that surfaced and applied the framework of Universal Family Engagement to discuss actionable solutions.


Universal Family Engagement

Universal Family Engagement is the practice of improving outcomes for all students by fostering effective partnerships with families, regardless of barriers or circumstances. 

Until now, schools and districts have maintained a focus on direct-to-home communications. Although it does an important job of informing families, it often misses the mark on inclusivity, professional development, and research-driven practices. When family engagement is mentioned, it is almost always about this type of outdated, unscalable solution.

Universal Family Engagement, however, refers to a solution that encompasses all of these components.


From challenges to connection

The five challenges below have been selected from the word cloud as examples to demonstrate how educators can take action without overhauling their entire workload. Whether you’re a classroom teacher, counselor, office staff, or school administrator, take a look at these solutions.

It’s important to note that each list of solutions is not exhaustive but a list of suggestions.



General UFE

Foster a sense of belonging among students and families within the school community by starting with steps like these.

  • Connect with all families at the beginning of the year
  • Include culturally relevant elements in the building and classroom
  • Send home pictures to show kids feeling happy, safe, and included


Falling grades


To avoid confusion and frustration during challenging conversations, it’s important to proactively address academic concerns by establishing clear expectations and communication channels beforehand.

  • Connect with all families at the beginning of the year with clear expectations
  • Touch base as soon as red flags appear
  • Set goals together

Empty seats


Students cannot learn unless they are in school, but we also know that they will not be in school unless their families understand the effects of attendance on their children’s education long-term.

  • Connect with all families at the beginning of the year with clear expectations
  • Clarify how attendance affects student success
  • Be their ‘person’ when questions arise

Personal concerns


Showing families and students that educators care for students as individuals, beyond the numbers they represent is crucial to their success in the educational community and beyond.


Behavior & well-being

Along with knowing the personal well-being of students in an educational community comes the responsibility of knowing what motivates them to do well. What are they interested in and what drives them?

  • Connect with all families at the beginning of the year
  • Develop meaningful mentoring with adults or older students
  • Host family engagement events

Watch the webinar

To watch the full webinar, click here or watch below, and let us know what additional challenges and Universal Family Engagement solutions you would choose to act on.


TalkingPoints is an award-winning education technology nonprofit that drives student success by unlocking the potential to fuel their children’s learning, especially in under-resourced communities. Our PK-12 universal family engagement technology impacts millions of students each year in tens of thousands of schools and districts across all 50 states. Through the power of AI, we coach and guide teachers and families to build strong partnerships in 150+ languages. Data-driven and grounded in research-based best practices, we are building school districts’ capacity to support students in a scalable, equitable, and low-cost way.

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