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Mar 26, 2019 |
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Author Les Brown once said, “No one rises to low expectations.” This is no secret in the world of education. Most practitioners discover early in their careers that learners rise to high expectations. This is due in part to the fact that holding high expectations for students communicates confidence in their abilities to succeed. Telling students, “You can meet these expectations through hard work,” promotes self-efficacy in the task at hand.

However, maintaining high expectations can be challenging; a number of obstacles stand in the way, including the low confidence many learners bring with them from prior school experiences. The challenge of helping children and adult learners understand their current abilities in order to set expectations adds another layer of complexity. Anyone can see how it would be easy to lower expectations. Still, to truly benefit learners of all ages, it is necessary to rise above these challenges. Practitioners must hold high expectations for their students and help those same students learn to hold high expectations for themselves.

NCFL has found that successful family learning programs are marked by high expectations for both staff and families. This makes sense — practitioners benefit from high expectations in the same ways learners do. When educators know others expect the best from them, they perform to their highest potential. In successful family literacy classrooms, this transfers to families.

In multigenerational learning, maintaining high expectations is essential to promoting self-efficacy in both parents and children. How can we communicate high expectations for families?

  • Use class time wisely. Plan meaningful instruction that fills the entire time slot. When class time is wasted, families may perceive that their learning is not worth investing in.
  • Provide models. Demonstrate your expectations through examples. When families understand what they’re striving for, they are more likely to succeed.
  • Focus on growth. Encourage families to celebrate each small victory along the way. Not all learners move at the same pace, and acknowledging each gain lessens the fear of failure.
  • Plan instruction that is developmentally appropriate. Instruction that is too easy tells learners you do not believe they can handle the next level. Instruction that is too difficult kills motivation to even try. Plan to target goals that are within reach but encourage growth.

Practitioners who hold high expectations for families establish a cycle of increased self-efficacy and success. What are your strategies for maintaining high expectations for staff and families? Do you have a success story to share? We’d love to hear from you!


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NCFL Partners

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Toyota Family Learning Program

Toyota, one of the nation's most successful corporations, began a partnership with NCFL in 1991. In addition to a commitment of more than $50 million, Toyota has also contributed a wealth of in-kind support — including advertising, planning and management expertise — to form one of the most progressive corporate/nonprofit partnerships in the nation.

Three major programs have been developed through the Toyota partnership based on the family literacy model of parents and children learning together. These models have influenced federal and state legislation, leveraged local dollars to support family literacy and led to successful programs being replicated across the country.

Read more about Toyota's commitment to communities

Dollar General Literacy Foundation

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation began partnering with NCFL in 2006. A signature effort of this partnership is the National Literacy Directory, a resource that launched in 2010 and strives to reach the 35.7 million adults ages 18-64 who do not have a high school diploma by guiding them to better-paying, more stable jobs.

The National Literacy Directory contains over 10,000 educational agencies located across the United States and has a dedicated toll-free number to help support those wanting to pursue educational opportunities in their communities.

Dollar General also provides support for development of NCFL’s innovative family learning resources centered on financial literacy and Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®.

Go to Dollar General Literacy Foundation's website

PNC Grow Up Great

PNC Grow Up Great believes deeply in the power of high-quality early childhood education and provides innovative opportunities that assist families, educators and community organizations to enhance children's learning and development.

PNC Grow Up Great has partnered with NCFL since 1994 to advance early literacy and learning resources for vulnerable families. Current efforts supported by PNC include a collaborative initiative in two at-risk Detroit communities that engages families to support vocabulary development for children under age 5.

NCFL's work is also featured on the PNC Grow Up Great Lesson Center website. The Lesson Center includes over 100 free, high-quality preschool lesson plans and research-based instructional techniques and strategies. All lesson plans contain Home/School Connections printouts, in English and Spanish, to help families extend and reinforce the learning at home.

PNC Grow Up Great

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

NCFL has partnered with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation since January 2016. The Foundation is currently supporting a dynamic two-generation family engagement initiative that expands NCFL's Family Learning model into select Head Start programs nationwide. NCFL's model presents an innovative way to support Head Start programs in meeting outcomes aligned with the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework.

Visit the Foundation website

Better World Books

Better World Books selected NCFL as its domestic literacy partner in 2005 and has raised more than $1 million to support NCFL’s work and donated more than $15 million to support literacy and education efforts worldwide. Better World Books is a triple-bottom-line online bookstore, working equally for people, planet and profit. Each book purchased powers literacy across the world.

Better World Books’ support of NCFL has provided books and workshops to families after Hurricane Katrina, donated large book donations to literacy programs and families nationwide and fueled innovative family literacy and learning programs and resources in libraries, schools and community-based organizations. In addition to their work for literacy and education, Better World Books diverts books from landfills and offers carbon-balanced shipping.

Better World Books

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

In 2013, NCFL began a partnership with the Gates Foundation to ensure that our network of students, teachers, and families thrive among recent shifts in standards-based education. NCFL will leverage the unique strengths of our award-winning Wonderopolis® platform to build upon the growing teacher network that uses the resource for core daily instruction and as a basis for professional growth.

Foundation Website

Goodling Institute

NCFL has partnered with the Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University since 2001, working collaboratively to further research, professional development, and policy efforts for family literacy and intergenerational learning.

The work of this partnership includes, but is not limited to, a strong research strand at NCFL's national annual convening, the Families Learning Summit; advocacy for family literacy and learning to further support for and inclusion of family-focused education in new and ongoing legislation; and dissemination of the latest research, resources, information, and professional development opportunities for literacy and learning practitioners and advocates, including the Certificate in Family Literacy provided by the Goodling Institute.

Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University