These scenes may be familiar – local seniors telling their stories to wide-eyed school children, parents sharing their interests and skills with other children in the neighbourhood, community residents reaching out to newcomers, older youth matched with younger reading buddies, teens mentored by professionals, community gardeners teaching children about food production…. The possibilities are endless….
How do we help to ensure that this happens?
There are many pathways to supporting children’s learning and healthy development. Parents, caregivers, teachers and educators and all citizens can always benefit from support in this important role. Communities are ripe with assets – stories, skills, individuals, groups, businesses, volunteers, libraries, churches, etc. However, these assets can often remain untapped. This presents an exciting opportunity – being purposeful about highlighting and engaging all that is available in each and every community to support learning.
Research shows that building strong relationships, communities and social capital positively impacts learning outcomes. Cafe adopts these strength-based, community-building elements within these key contexts:
- Supporting parent leaders, community and school educators with resources to help guide parents and caregivers in supporting their child’s healthy foundation. Café provides orientation and easy-to-follow resources for hosting Parent Café conversations focused on applying what we now know about early brain development in our day to day interactions with young children – see Cafe’s Early Childhood Development
- Supporting schools and/or their extended communities with resources to further engage parents and caregivers in supporting young readers. When teachers, families and the broader communities are collectively engaged in the learning process children benefit. Our Parent Café conversation guide offers a tool for exploring the important role of caring adults in building strong readers and reading communities – see Cafe’s Supporting Literacy and Learning
- Supporting communities and their organizations in mobilizing to support children. Café offers resources for community-based leaders and educators to find collective ways to support young learners by focusing on literacy and early years development, education for new Canadians, and other community-based learning initiatives. – see Community Development Learning
The capacity-building elements inherent in Café’s framework and rationale include emerging research and developments in educational leadership and learning theories, along with remarked shifts in understanding how communities can effectively mobilize and drive their own development. Advancements in policy and practice linking education and community development are developing as parent and community engagement becomes increasingly recognized as a key element for achieving success.
Research shows that communities that have been successful in mobilizing share a number of common elements. These elements have been articulated in the asset-based community development (ABCD) approach to community development first articulated by J. McKnight & J. Kretzmann, (1993). These include a focus on assets, strengths, relationship building, and the ability to capitalize on existing opportunities. Cafe’s work is dedicated to supporting individuals and communities as a whole to further their own capacity to support literacy and learning through a strength-based, community-buidling lens. more on ABCD…
Why an asset-based approach for education?
Our young learners need the support of caring adults and their communities coming together to impact learning! The elements of successful community mobilization offer lessons in how to effectively do this. An ABCD approach guides us to:
- focus on developing the often untapped assets and strengths found within schools, families and the greater community.
- clarify our shared responsibility for supporting young learners and building strong, healthy communities.
- explore pathways for schools and communities to effectively contribute to the overall development of the communities to which they belong.
Café’s support extends to any and all individuals, schools, community groups or universities with a shared interest in creating opportunities for building relationships and social capital, supporting broad-based leadership, and engaging all available assets – factors known to positively impact learning. We are pleased to explore this within your unique context.