Family Funds

Creating Opportunities for Using Family Funds of Knowledge to Support Learning in School

Presented by: Callie Lewry

“It wasn’t because the parents didn’t want to. It’s because they didn’t know how to.”

Callie Lewry is a Regina teacher who, with a grant from the McDowell Foundation, was able to engage her student’s families in the hopes of supporting a stronger learning environment. This study was conducted at a school in Regina which served its poorest neighborhood, with mostly Indigenous and immigrant students attending.

Lewry began her program by inviting her students’ families to “community kitchens”. At these events, they would cook together and get to know one another. Lewry noted something that really stuck out to me: she told us how many of the family members didn’t know how to cook. One of the mothers didn’t know what 1/2 a cup was. She asked how much “one slash two cups” is. Lewry remarked how cooking is something we all take for granted. “Where did we all learn to cook? At home. Not at school.” She pointed out that if you had attended residential school, you wouldn’t have learned how to cook because you would have been separated from your parents.

“All Parents have Dreams for their children and want the best for them.”
“All Parents have the capacity to support their children’s learning.”

A school which recognizes that parents want their children to succeed, and uses this to their advantage, is going to be a school with better student engagement and happiness. Not all parents are able to properly support their child’s learning for a great number of reasons. Sometimes feeding your child is more important than making sure they are succeeding at school. And this is why, as Lewry said, that the onus is on school staff to make sure parents are engaged in their child’s learning.

“Teachers and schools can overcome barriers to parent engagement by reaching out and building trusting relationships.”

I can barely imagine what elementary school would have been like if my schools had involved my parents in the same way that Lewry has done here. If parents get the help they need in supporting their children like they want to, we could revolutionize education. If this is the future of education, then all I can say is that I’m sorry I missed it.


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