Families and Schools Together Program
The FAST Program (Families and Schools Together) presents strategies that when used by parents and teachers help to improve students’ achievement in school. It is recognized that parents are the first and most consistently influential teachers of their children. It is through the parents’ involvement that children learn to value learning, work, and relationships, and to use leisure time in constructive ways. Parents instruct their children in listening, in contributing to others, and in being responsible. Parents model work values and roles, and establish the beginnings of children’s self-concept and feelings of self-esteem. Parents help teach their children the responsibility of acquiring the competencies (knowledge, attitudes, and skills) necessary to use available educational resources to prepare for productive citizenship. They provide the security, through family rituals, to allow their children to accommodate what is learned in school, and to plan and to prepare for a career.
Although it is clear that children are more successful when their parents are involved and maintain interest in the child’s education through post-high school training or college, it is often difficult for parents and for educators to identify effective ways for this to happen within the constraints of modern life. Two career families, single parent families, and other demands often prevent many parents from becoming involved at the school during school hours. FAST presents specific methods for children’s education and development even if they find it impossible to participate in PTA meetings and other traditional volunteer activities within schools.
In addition, it is recognized that when children are not successful both parents and teachers are affected. It is hoped that by working together as partners for the benefit of the learner, both the parents and teachers will experience positive results. Adversarial relationships seldom produce positive results for children; therefore it is to everyone’s advantage to find cooperative and collaborative ways to encourage the learner’s success. The main objective of FAST is to help families and schools find ways to work together to help children achieve and thrive. It is important that FAST not be construed as being for parents whose children are experiencing problems. It is designed to be useful to families and schools of all learners, regardless of school performance.
The FAST program is divided into four areas that contribute to a learner’s success. The module texts that correspond to these four areas are subdivided into short sections that can be used as topics of discussion for parent groups. There are worksheets embedded within the module texts to help personalize the information presented within each section. The four program modules are as follows:
- Module 1: Establishing Learning Rituals in the Home. This module provides information that parents can use within the family structure to reduce friction and conflict over their children doing homework, to accommodate individual needs and preferences based on understanding the personality type of each person within the family, and to help parents and children communicate about learning, school, and the children’s educational needs.
- Module 2: Motivating Your Student. This module suggests means for parents to approach their children and teenagers in ways that reduce friction or misunderstandings. Information is presented on the normal, expected aspects of development and those behaviors that may be cause for concern. Specific activities are suggested for motivating, building self-esteem, and developing a sense of responsibility within the family.
- Module 3: Providing Learning Assistance in the Home. This module provides parents with ideas for how to help their children to learn how to learn, to use resources, to plan for their post-high school educational endeavors, and to develop habits that will affect their success in college.
- Module 4: Monitoring Your Student’s Educational Progress. This module encourages parents to take an active interest in their children’s educational activities and to understand the importance of documenting student progress in school and outside of the classroom. Education is comprised of much more than what occurs within the school and classroom, and only parents have impact on their learner’s achievements from “womb to tomb.”
A Facilitator’s Guide is provided that suggests ways in which schools and communities might implement FAST. The program offers further information on parent involvement and presents suggestions for specific programs that communities may wish to implement, such as school-home partnerships and parent centers.