Family Engagement

Horizons families are our partners. As a long-term learning community, each Horizons program involves students' parents, caregivers, and siblings. Engaging the whole family in their child's learning is an effective way to support student success, encourage at-home activities, and empower families to work in partnership with teachers year-round. Programs prioritize enrolling students' siblings, aiming to engage generations.

During the 6-week summer program, program staff keep in close contact with families regarding their student's growth and challenges, providing additional resources to help caregivers support learning at home. Throughout the summer and school year, Horizons programs often host special "Family Days" where families are invited to join the community for celebrations of students' hard work. Many programs also invite families to participate in classes together with their student, such as swimming lessons, cooking, art, and sports, and some host classes just for caregivers based on their interests and requested topics. These ongoing connections are a critical component of long-term family engagement, and help reinforce that Horizons is a community for both students and families.

[I value] all the support and love they put into my children. I appreciate everything Horizons does for my family! They not only teach, they show us we are NOT alone through any situation!!!

-  parent, Horizons at the Episcopal Academy

Some sites also choose to establish a Parent Council, a close community space where families can exchange thoughts and ideas for the program. Parent Councils are a great way to deepen the program's relationship with families and to learn more about how to best support their students and community. Councils often identify resources such as community speakers, classes, and/or networking opportunities for fellow caregivers in the program.

The COVID pandemic illustrated just how important it is for programs and schools to work alongside parents in support of students. For the first time, Horizons programming was brought into students' homes, and families were able to observe and participate in programming alongside their child. Programs deepened their contact with families, having regular check-in phone calls and making home visits to deliver learning supplies. Programs also shifted to provide additional family supports during the pandemic, such as year-round mental health resources, grocery assistance, and at-home activities.