Topics: Student Engagement Family Support Family Engagement

Supporting Parents as Education Partners

Alyssa Buccella

by Alyssa Buccella

August 31, 2022
Supporting Parents as Education Partners

every child is capable of greatness.

Posted in: Aha! Blog > Great Minds Blog > Student Engagement Family Support Family Engagement > Supporting Parents as Education Partners

Typically, we think of student learning as taking place within and because of the instructional core—the relationship between teachers, students, and instructional materials that drives learning. But in 2021 the Center for Public Research and Leadership (CPRL) at Columbia University published a study that highlighted the ways COVID-19 fundamentally transformed and expanded the instructional core to include families as a fourth anchor.Graphic comparing the traditional instructional core of "teacher, instructional materials, and student" to the expanded instructional core of "teacher, instructional materials, student, and family."

(Chu, Clay, and McCarty 2021)

For many schools, outside of periodic parent–teacher conferences or curriculum nights, families have historically largely been left out of the day-to-day instructional process. But in 2020 teachers became dependent on families’ engagement with academics, effectively overnight, to support daily learning as students’ homes transformed into classrooms. The CPRL study set out to understand these evolving family–school dynamics and to examine the role high-quality instructional materials played in the process (Chu, Clay, and McCarty 2021).

The study began with a systematic literature review on the instructional core, high-quality instructional materials, professional learning, family engagement, and emerging research on school operations during the pandemic. The researchers then identified and recruited school sites that were using high-quality instructional materials in at least one subject to provide insight into teaching and learning with families as part of the instructional core (Chu, Clay, and McCarty 2021).

We were thrilled to see that six of the nine sites selected for the study used Wit & Wisdom® and/or Eureka Math® and to read about ways our curricula and embedded resources improved families’ ability to support student learning at home during COVID-19.

“Participants at more than half of the sites we studied described curriculum resources that were provided to families to enhance their capacity to support instruction at home. Great Minds curricula, including Eureka Math and Wit & Wisdom, were strong in this area since they provided Homework Helpers and instructional videos that directly aligned to class work, module by module and lesson by lesson.” 
(Chu, Clay, and McCarty 2021, 18)

At Great Minds®, we are proud to support families as learning partners and take great care to build transparency and family support resources into all our curricula. Features including Family Tip Sheets, Homework Helpers, grade-level and module maps, and at-home activities allow families to be informed and active participants in their child’s learning. The vital importance of family–school partnerships was highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this expanded instructional core is likely here to stay as families continue to play a greater role in their child’s education than ever before. That’s why family engagement and support have been, and will continue to be, at our programs’ core.

“In Clarksdale [Collegiate Public Charter School] one parent directly leveraged the instructional materials, particularly videos and slide decks, to improve her ability to support her child with conceptual math: ‘[My son’s teacher] emails me PowerPoints and tutorial videos weekly … These videos are very helpful. I want to teach my child math the way I learned it, but Eureka [Math] walks them through it in a different way. The videos show it step-by-step so I can get it and explain it their way versus my way. I work it through with [my son] and give him more examples ... it helps him get unstuck on math problems.’”
(Chu, Clay, and McCarty 2021, 15)

Decades of research show that when families are involved with schools, students learn more and are more likely to advance to post-secondary education. High-quality instructional materials—such as Eureka Math, Eureka Math2™, Wit & Wisdom, and PhD Science®—can provide an essential coordinating and educative structure that guides educators and families to deepen their partnership and grow their capacity to support instruction (Chu, Clay, and McCarty 2021). 

“One third-grade teacher from Hartford Public Schools in Connecticut put it simply: ‘I feel that my students are actually doing better in math this year. The reason is parent involvement … Eureka [Math] provides letters you can send to parents at the beginning of the module to give overviews of what will be covered. There are Homework Helpers provided through Eureka [Math]. Parents know where to go when their children are struggling. I love hearing that a student’s parent has helped them with something at home that they would have otherwise done at school without their family.’”
(Chu, Clay, and McCarty 2021, 10)


Learn More

Join us on September 21 at 4 P.M. Eastern for a free webinar on family engagement. The one-hour webinar will begin with an overview of the research out of CPRL followed by a moderated panel discussion on successful family engagement.

Register Now

Check out the following resources for more detail on how Great Minds curricula support families.

Curriculum-Specific Resource Pages

Articles and Blog Posts


Works Cited

Chu, Elizabeth, Andrea Clay, and Grace McCarty. 2021. "Fundamental 4: Pandemic Learning Reveals the Value of High-Quality Instructional Materials to Educator-Family-Student Partnerships." Columbia University Center for Public Research and Leadership. July 2021.


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Topics: Student Engagement Family Support Family Engagement