Core components of family-school connections: Toward a model of need satisfying partnerships

Document Type

Book Chapter


A growing literature supports the importance of family-school partnerships, in which schools and families work together and share responsibility for children’s school success. Following in this tradition, this chapter explores key components of effective family involvement, the factors that impact whether and how partnerships are constructed, and using self-determination theory (SDT), characteristics of need supportive partnerships. In particular, important to family-school partnerships are stakeholders’ role constructions including: (a) parents’ views of their roles regarding children’s learning, (b) teachers’ views of parents as able to help and their active invitations for parents to be involved, and (c) principals’ attitudes about how parents fit into the school organization. SDT highlights the importance of family-school partnerships that help parents, teachers, and children fulfill needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness. When parents are more involved, provide academic structure, and interact in an autonomy supportive manner, children are more motivated; and subsequently successful at school. When parents feel more efficacious, they are more likely to be involved. Similarly, teachers need to feel that they know how to involve parents and that their efforts are appreciated. The chapter ends with an exploration of challenges to need supportive partnerships including traditional power structures within schools and pressures on parents and teachers. Suggestions for future research, including considering bidirectional, reciprocal and developmental effects of principal, teacher, parent and student behaviors and attitudes, are considered.

Publication Title

Research on Family-School Partnerships

Publication Date


First Page


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bidirectional influences, children’s motivation, family-school partnerships, parent involvement, parental autonomy support, self-determination theory, teacher attitudes, teacher practices