Introducing the Best Family Engagement Programs of 2024
Read our article to discover what makes ParentPowered one of the best family engagement programs of 2024.

By Maren Madalyn, contributing writer

Most educators recognize that family engagement is essential for supporting student success as children grow, impacting everything from student achievement to attendance rates to positive school climate. 

And in the modern era, digital family engagement programs are instrumental in bridging the gap between home and school. Such tools are designed to support collaboration among families, teachers, school staff, and district and school leaders in service of children’s education.

With the rise of education technology, there are now more options than ever when it comes to choosing a tool among the best family engagement programs. That can make the task of selecting the right solution for family involvement all the more challenging. 

Fortunately, educators can turn to key research on family engagement for help! 

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Comparing the best family engagement programs

Though every school or district has its unique qualities, there are several best practices of any family engagement program that cultivate student success. Dr. Karen Mapp’s Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships offers an excellent summary of these elements, which emphasize factors like two-way communication, mutual respect, and strengths-based approaches. 

Taking these elements into consideration, let’s examine the seven most commonly used digital family and community engagement programs for their efficacy. In particular, we’ll unpack how well each solution supports two factors you’ll find in all successful family-school partnership examples:

  • How well a family engagement platform facilitates family-school communication practices for all types of families
  • How successfully and equitably a platform guides families through specific engagement opportunities that directly impact student learning outcomes
Learn more about Dr. Mapp's Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships.

Both are necessary to build collaborative partnerships between home and school. As such, the best family engagement programs enable both accessible family communication strategies and effective parenting guidance.

As you examine your family engagement needs, take a look at what factors make each of these family engagement software stand out among the rest:

  • Best Overall Family Engagement Program: ParentPowered
  • Best for Broader Communication: ParentSquare
  • Best for Chat Messaging: Remind
  • Best for Classroom Collaboration: ClassDojo
  • Best for Real-Time Translated Conversations: TalkingPoints
  • Best Multimedia Curriculum for New Parents: ReadyRosie
  • Best Free Parenting Curriculum: Bright by Text

Best overall family engagement program: ParentPowered

About the company

ParentPowered is a public-benefit corporation that serves K-12 schools and districts, Head Start programs, and other community-based organizations that work with families. Their mission is to create easy-to-use tools for great parenting to improve the lives of all children, from birth through high school.

About their program(s)

ParentPowered offers multiple evidence-based family engagement curricula developed by researchers and parenting experts. Each program provides families with weekly text messages that contain easy-to-do learning activities. Families can easily do activities during daily family routines and without additional resources or tools. Activities focus on everything from literacy and mathematics to life skills and parental self care. 

Each program also offers a data analytics dashboard with enrollment metrics, easy-to-use family engagement reporting, and a customizable survey builder for collecting feedback via text message.

A sample image of the ParentPowered Dashboard, displaying the results of a family feedback survey.

Finally, some programs can be customized. For example, the customizable Community Support Stream connects families to community resources in the ParentPowered Trauma-Informed program.

What makes ParentPowered stand out

  • Available for families of children from birth up through grade 12
  • Strengths-based messages tailored to unique learning needs of a student’s age and grade level — “growing up” alongside a student
  • Evidence-based methodology was empirically proven to positively impact student learning outcomes
  • Comprehensive curricula covering both academic and non-academic topics such as life skills, social emotional learning, mental health, and more
  • Equitable communication methods using text message
  • Core curriculum available in over 10 languages
  • Customizable family survey tools
  • No cost for families to sign up
  • No app or software required

What could be improved

  • Two-way communication is limited to administrators
  • Standard texting fees may apply

Why Select ParentPowered

What puts ParentPowered ahead of the competition is the program’s ability to support both effective family communication in terms of reach and text-based survey engagement and the robust evidence-based parenting curricula available for all student ages. Few programs could boast both breadth and depth of coverage in this way, making ParentPowered stand out as the best family engagement program available in 2024.

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Runner-up family engagement programs

The remaining programs highlighted in this article offer robust platforms that cultivate home-school communication or a thorough curriculum for families about parenting and student learning — but otherwise did not successfully meet both criteria for successful family engagement programs. 

ParentSquare: best for broader two-way communication

About the company

ParentSquare is a school-to-home communications platform founded in 2011. Their team is passionate about better connecting schools with families to improve student outcomes and school success

About their program

ParentSquare provides an excellent two-way communication platform for K-12 organizations. With streamlined school-to-home communication, mass notifications across multiple channels, and teacher-family messaging and conferencing tools, ParentSquare gives educators a wide variety of methods for contacting their families.

Mature Caucasian woman speaking on mobile phone at a coffee shop.

What makes ParentSquare stand out

  • All-in-one centralized communications platform between schools and families, including appointments scheduling and permissions slip/forms management
  • Real-time mass notification system for immediately contacting the school community
  • Detailed analytics dashboard about communications and secure messaging management
  • Two-way translation capabilities using Google Translate for some messaging features

What can be improved

  • No evidence-based parenting or family engagement curriculum
  • Translations are limited to word-for-word translations and are not contextual
  • Requires downloading an app
  • Requires a phone data plan
  • User navigation can be complex and difficult to learn
  • Standard texting fees may apply

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Remind: Best for Chat Messaging

About the company

Remind is a school communication platform founded in 2011. Their mission is to to help give every student the opportunity to succeed

DISCLAIMER: In November 2023, ParentSquare acquired Remind for an undisclosed amount.

About their program

Remind’s stand-out feature is their chat message system for students, parents, and teachers. With additional tools like an office hours schedule, integrations with other edtech applications, and two-way language translation, Remind supports real-time communication within the classroom and beyond. Remind also offers a separate text-messaging product focused on two-way communication between school administrators and families. 

What makes Remind stand out

  • Deliver messages to families through SMS, email, or push notifications on the Remind Chat app
  • Securely encrypted messages
  • No cost for teachers and families to sign up

What can be improved

  • No evidence-based parenting or family engagement curriculum
  • Translations are limited to word-for-word translations and are not contextual
  • Standard texting fees may apply
  • Analytics are limited to the Hub product

ClassDojo: best for classroom collaboration

About the company

ClassDojo is a classroom community platform founded in 2011 on the belief that every kid on earth should get an education they love.

About their program

ClassDojo offers teachers robust classroom management tools that support curating student portfolios, facilitating classroom activities, creating visibility for families to view schoolwork, and more.

Teachers also have the ability to schedule classroom events, share multiple types of media with families (such as videos or photos), and directly message families through the software. Additionally, ClassDojo includes behavior management tools for the classroom setting.

Hispanic teacher helps a high school student with her assignment in the classroom.

What makes ClassDojo stand out

  • Visibility for families to see student work and classroom activities
  • Free for all users (optional family subscription available to use classroom features at home)
  • Offers a PBIS-style points system that parents and teachers can use together

What can be improved

  • No evidence-based parenting or family engagement curriculum
  • No mass notification or communication option for school community
  • Requires downloading an app to receive messages
  • No text message communication options
  • Concerns about user data privacy per CommonSense independent evaluation

TalkingPoints: best for real-time translated conversations

About the company

TalkingPoints is a nonprofit founded in 2015 that focuses on school-home engagement. Its mission is to drive student success by using accessible technology to unlock the potential of family engagement in children’s education.

About their program

TalkingPoints’ strength is its messaging app for families and teachers. Through the app, teachers can share multiple types of media and send messages in multiple languages, thanks to its real-time translation. Families have the option to receive messages through text instead.

A graphic displays "Hello" in multiple languages within cartoon speech bubbles.

What nakes TalkingPoints stand out

  • Multilingual families benefit from real-time translations
  • No cost for teachers and families to use

What can be improved

  • No evidence-based parenting or family engagement curriculum
  • No mass notification or communication option for school community
  • Ideal user experience depends on downloading the app
  • Standard texting fees may apply
  • Concerns about user data privacy per CommonSense independent evaluation

ReadyRosie: best multimedia curriculum for new parents

About the company

ReadyRosie is an evidence-informed, research-based parenting curriculum developed in 2015. Its parent organization, Teaching Strategies, was founded on the belief that all children deserve a nurturing, engaging, and high-quality learning environment designed to support their unique needs throughout the critical, formative years.

About their program

ReadyRosie is a comprehensive resource for new families of young children aged birth through kindergarten. The curriculum offers “modeled moments” (videos demonstrating parenting strategies) and “research and answer” videos on specific topics such as social-emotional learning, discipline, healthy communication, and more.

What makes ReadyRosie stand out

  • Curriculum developed by experts in early childhood development 
  • Provides discussion starters for families to reflect
  • Focused on modeling parenting strategies, not just describing them

What can be improved

  • Requires an app or account via the website to access content
  • Requires a data plan or internet connectivity
  • No two-way communication features with families
  • Only supported in two languages (English and Spanish)
  • No resources available for families of students in grades 1-12

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Bright By Text: best free parenting curriculum

About the company

Bright By Text provides tips and resources to parents of children prenatal to age 8. Developed by UCHealth, the program’s mission is to help all families give kids a bright beginning so they can grow into healthy, happy and successful adults. 

About their program

Bright By Text delivers free parenting tips, activities, and resources via text message. The content was developed in collaboration with pediatricians, researchers, early childhood experts, and other education content creators such as NHSA and PBS Kids.

What makes Bright By Text stand out

  • Provides information and parenting guidance to families of young children, even before the child is born
  • No cost for families to use
  • Equitable communication methods using text message

What can be improved

  • No two-way communication features with families
  • Content is curated, not written as a complete curriculum
  • Only supported in two languages, English and Spanish
  • No resources available for families of students older than 8 years old

Choosing the right family engagement program

For organizations that seek equitable and effective ways to engage families in their children’s education at all ages, ParentPowered stands out among the rest as the best overall family engagement program.

That said, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to family-school partnerships! The right program for family and community engagement will be the one that fits your organization’s unique needs and priorities. The key is to ensure that families and community members are actively part of your strategies and solutions for achieving those priorities. 

Whether it’s improving school climate, boosting attendance rates, or investing in career planning for high school students, families play essential roles in cultivating student success and school improvement. When families, schools, and communities work hand-in-hand to promote student growth and success, everyone thrives!

Frequently asked questions about family engagement

What is family engagement in schools?

Family engagement in schools is best described by NAFSCE

Family engagement is a shared responsibility in which schools and other community agencies and organizations are committed to reaching out to engage families in meaningful ways and in which families are committed to actively supporting their children’s learning and development.

In this vision, schools and families work together toward building a positive learning environment for all students to thrive.

Why is family engagement important?

Research shows that family engagement generates a number of positive school and student outcomes, including improved student achievement, higher attendance rates, greater teacher satisfaction, and more. When schools foster strong relationships with parents and caregivers, the entire community benefits!

A multiracial father relaxes on a sofa at home while reading his favorite book.

What does effective family-school communication look like?

Effective communication is at the heart of family engagement. It builds trust, facilitates meaningful involvement, and fosters strong relationships between schools and families. By developing habits and systems of two-way information sharing, educators ensure  families can share back with schools as often as educators reach out to them. 

Download this guide for specific tips on building family-school communication strategies.

How do schools educate parents and caregivers about engaging in school?

Research shows that, when armed with the skills and insights to help their children succeed, parents and caregivers can and do take action. And when parents take action, children thrive. This is why it is essential for schools to create habits of engaging with their families — and not to assume that parents know how, when, and where to engage with teachers, administrators, and others in the school community! 

Watch this webinar to unpack the five most effective habits of family engagement that educators can build.

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About the author

Maren Madalyn has worked at the intersection of K12 education and technology for over a decade, serving in roles ranging from counseling to customer success to product management. She blends this expertise with fluid writing and strategic problem-solving to help education organizations create thoughtful long-form content that empowers educators.

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