Skip to main content
Dr. Karen Mapp, Harvard

Dr. Karen Mapp, Harvard: Family engagement in children's education has impact when linked to learning

20 April, 2023

"Associating the family with the child's learning and being engaged in the process leads to strengthening the educational core." says Karen Mapp. Research shows that parents who are actively involved in their children's education help them develop social, emotional and intellectual skills.

In this article, we explore how parents can get engaged in their children's education and support the strengthening of the school-family partnership.

"The main problem with developing effective family-school partnerships is that neither stakeholder has really had good guidance on how to do this." said Karen Mapp. Today, with the help of modern technology, family engagement in children's education can be more valuable than we might imagine. Parents are always connected to what's going on at school and can communicate much more quickly with teachers or principals.

The four I's of family engagement in children's education

Dr. Karen Mapp, lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and director of the Master's Program in Educational Policy and Management, an expert on family engagement in education, summarized the conditions necessary for effective parent and community engagement in the form of the 4 I's:
  1. When schools support inclusion, parent groups are more accepting and appreciative of diverse perspectives.
  2. When an individualized approach to parent involvement is also adopted, the school succeeds in meeting the unique needs of each family and each child.
  3. When it takes an integrated approach to family engagement, the school connects and aligns its efforts with those of the community.
  4. Families are more motivated to participate in the school's work and support learning when the impact of their actions is visible. Schools that track, measure and communicate the results of family involvement in education succeed in building more cohesive and active communities.
cei 4 i EN

"The teacher works in a dynamic reality." (Sikora, 2016, p. 57). He has contact with students, parents, other teachers, school managers, and these interactions require a continuous dialogue between all educational partners. On Kinderpedia, the manager can facilitate the collaboration of all, whether we are talking about school staff sharing their materials and resources, or communication with the family which can take the form of quick messages or photos with children during the activity.

Three specific learning theories - behaviourist, sociocultural and critical - demonstrate clear differences in how parents' roles in their children's education are understood.

👉 Find out about Family Engagement Models.

Quality education for children is everyone's responsibility: parents, teachers, principals, society. Only through effective connections, constant communication and trust will the impact of the school-family partnership be amazing and fears be reduced.

In one of her Harvard Graduate School interviews, Karen Mapp talks about how effective family engagement in a child's school work should be relational, interactive, collaborative and developmentally oriented. "If we only provide certain services to families, without working to develop shared capacities, then no one learns, no one grows." says Mapp.

When we talk about the connection to learning, we're talking about engaging families in a way that will support each student's developmental process. School principals can work collaboratively and create a strategy to support student learning, even with the active engagement of parents. Family involvement shouldn't be seen as something extra that school staff only get involved with "when they have time," says Karen Mapp.

In practical experiences, many family involvement activities are not at all focused on student learning. For example, there are always efforts to involve families in fundraising or supporting school procedures. These practices, in themselves, do not substantially link families to their children's learning.

Dr. Karen Mapp, Harvard: The Dual Framework for Building School Capacity

"The Dual Capacity Building Framework" was formulated using research on effective parent engagement and family-school partnership strategies. Components of Karen Mapp's model include:

  • Description of the challenges schools and parents face.
  • A strong school-family partnership can support the development of shared strategies and goals that support overcoming these challenges.
  • Articulation of the conditions that are part of successful family-school partnership initiatives and interventions;
  • Identification of objectives that should be at the heart of family engagement policies and programmes at state and local levels;
  • Description of capacity-building outcomes for school and program staff and families.

Dual Capacity Framework Karen Mapp
Karen Mapp proposes an exercise for school leaders.

List all the events and activities that involve parents of children in your school.
Circle all activities that fit the following criteria:

- The family leaves the activity knowing more about the child's developmental level and what they should be able to do at that grade/age level.
- Leaves knowing how to use a new tool or activity at home to support the learning goals discussed with teachers.

Dr. Karen Mapp concludes that it is essential to connect parents to everything about their child's education, at every stage: from setting learning goals, to outlining comprehensive strategies and even using the necessary tools, at school or at home.

It is very valuable to look at pupils' progress from both a process and a big picture perspective. Kinderpedia is a very user-friendly professional tool that allows teachers to assess children's progress at any time and share their achievements with parents in real time. Observations and progress reports give teachers an accurate assessment of each pupil's level at any point in the school year.

How Kinderpedia supports family engagement in children's education

Technology is here to support learning. On one hand by facilitating access to quality education, relevant content and timely interactions between students and teachers, and, on the other, by simplifying communication and collaboration between schools, nurseries and families.

On Kinderpedia, parents find out in real-time how their children’s day at school or nursery went: from attendance, grades, and assignments, to mood, participation, or how much they ate and slept, in the case of younger students. When they are aware of their children’s projects and progress at school, parents can continue the educational process at home and support their children where they need it. Kinderpedia creates the environment for an effective partnership between school and family and places student-teacher-parent collaboration right at the heart of learning.

 Find out more 

Karen L. Mapp is a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and director of the Master of Education Policy and Management program. For the past twenty years, Mapp's research and practice have focused on cultivating partnerships among families, community members, and educators that support student achievement and school improvement.




The complete communication and management solution for schools and childcare centres.

Simplifies teachers' work and brings parents closer to their children's school progress.

Recommended articles

Want to improve your center quality? Kinderpedia is here to help! Not only do we provide thousands of informational content pieces like blog posts, podcasts, webinars and more, we are also makers of the #1 Rated and Reviewed Childcare Software.


Av. Dr. Mário Vilas Boas Rodrigues
São Paulo - SP, 04723-000, BR


Av. D. Joao II Nº35 11ºA
1990-083 Lisboa, PT


46-48 Calea Plevnei
010233 Bucharest, RO


Langgasse 47c
6340 Baar, CH

United Arab Emirates

Dubai Digital Park, Building A6,
Dubai Silicon Oasis, Dubai

United Kingdom

30 Churchill Pl, Canary Wharf
London E14 5RE, UK