Building Family-Community Relationships

Safe, nurturing and predictable environments are essential for young children's healthy development. We believe that families, as children's primary caregivers, play the most important role in providing safe, nurturing, and predictable environments for children. When families and educators work together in trusting partnership, they lay the foundation for children's lifelong success.

The resources on this page can help you support and build relationships with your families.

Fun with Feelings

Supporting Social Emotional Development at Home

There are many ways that teachers can help families support their children’s social emotional development. One way is by using the Pre-K Thrive Fun with Feelings cards.

Children who learn how to manage their feelings get along better with family and friends, are better able to stay focused and engaged in learning, have higher self-esteem, and keep trying even when a task is difficult. Children who have not yet learned to manage their feelings are more likely to get teased, get into fights, and get in trouble in school. They are also more likely to hit, throw tantrums, withdraw from others, or have problems with alcohol or drugs as teenagers. Pre-K helps children learn how to manage their feelings by learning feeling words such as happy, sad, and scared, recognizing strong feelings in their minds and bodies, expressing feelings appropriately, and finding ways to calm down or feel better when necessary.

This infographic is available as a printable below in multiple languages.

Pre-K Thrive Fun with Feelings cards offer families a playful way to help children learn about feelings and support social emotional skill-building at home. The Division of Early Childhood Education (DECE) has partnered with the Center for Early Childhood Health and Development (CEHD) at NYU Langone Health to create Pre-K Thrive resources for Pre-K for All children, families, and programs.

All families with a child enrolled in a Pre-K for All program will receive Fun with Feelings cards. All Pre-K for All programs will receive one set of Fun with Feelings cards to keep in each Pre-K for All classroom.

You can use the following resources to support your program's use of Fun with Feelings:

Language Supports

Children and families in New York City speak over 180 different languages. As educators, it is our responsibility to ensure that all families have meaningful opportunities to participate in their child’s education no matter what language they speak at home.

We offer several supports that you can use to support families in your program who speak a language other than English.

District Schools and Pre-K Centers

Please visit the Translations and Interpretations Unit web page for language support.

New York City Early Education Centers (NYCEECs)

Over the Phone Interpretation (Language Line)

  • The NYCDOE offers free access to over-the-phone interpretation services in over 200 languages so staff can communicate with Pre-K for All families who speak a language other than English. The service is provided by Language Line.
  • You can use Language Line in three ways:
    • when a parent/guardian comes to your school/program
    • when you call a parent/guardian
    • when a parent/guardian calls you
  • Follow these four simple steps and a trained interpreter will assist you in communicating with your families:
    • Dial 1-866-874-3972
    • Provide your client ID: 572767
    • Indicate the language you need translated
    • Provide your program's zip code
      • Please note: This service should only be used by staff at NYCEECs to communicate with families.
  • Please review the following resources to assist you in using this service:

If you have questions or need support, contact the Language Line at 1-800-752-6096.

Translated Templates for Common Letters to Families

We have developed translated templates for common letters to families to assist programs in their efforts to establish strong relationships with all families, including those who speak languages other than English.

Dual Language Classrooms

Dual Language classrooms provide instruction in two languages: English and a second “target” language. Dual Language classrooms enroll a balance of students whose home language is English and students whose home language is the target language. Dual Language classrooms are designed to enable all students to become bilingual.

Dual Language classrooms must be staffed by a teacher who has certification in early childhood education and has obtained the New York State (NYS) Bilingual Extension Certification.

If you are interested in opening a Dual Language classroom at your program, or would like to request additional information, email PreKDualLanguage@schools.nyc.gov.

Outreach Support

The Outreach Team is available to provide support to programs that would like assistance with strategizing around recruitment of new families. Enrollment Specialists on the Outreach Team speak with families all across New York City on a daily basis about early childhood education options. The team connects with families over the phone, at community events, and by leveraging hundreds of community partnerships. Enrollment Specialists can meet with early childhood education program staff to help develop a long-term outreach plan, identify recruitment strategies for programs to incorporate into their own outreach, and provide tools such as a social media toolkit, outreach best practices checklist, and a flyer template.

The Pre-K Quality Snapshot is also available to help families understand quality at Pre-K for All programs. The Snapshot includes results from the NYC School Survey of Families and Teachers as well as data from program assessments (CLASS, ECERS-R, and, for District Schools, the Quality Review). Our goal is to give families information to help them find the program that best meets their child’s needs.

  • To access your program’s Pre-K Quality Snapshot:
    • Search for your program
    • Click “Pre-K Snapshot”

For questions, or for support with strategizing around recruitment of new families, email OutreachTeam@schools.nyc.gov or call 212-637-8000. If your families have questions about the 3-K for All or Pre-K for All admissions, they can call 718-935-2009, visit our website at nyc.gov/preK or nyc.gov/3k, or go to a Family Welcome Center.

Family Conferences (Parent-Teacher Conferences)

Family-teacher conferences are a time for deepening your relationships with families. These conversations provide an opportunity for teachers to partner with families and to discuss together how they can support their child’s learning and development. Conferences are a great time to have discussions about student progress and a child’s individual needs that build on the shorter casual conversations that you have with families daily.

In order to support ongoing two-way communication between families and teachers, Family-Teacher Conference should be offered throughout the school year. Here are some things to consider when planning for conversations with families:

  • Review authentic assessment data, including student observations, work samples, and family-facing reports, to plan family-teacher conferences.
  • Allow at least 20 minutes with each family to talk about their child's progress.
  • Make sure the timing is convenient for families. Conferences may be held before, during, or after regular program hours.
  • Coordinate with other staff in the building such as directors and family engagement staff on early outreach and hosting family activities.
  • Advertise the family-teacher conferences by sending home invitations at least 10 days in advance, disseminating flyers via local businesses, electronic mailing lists, the program website, and newspapers. Multilingual flyers can be found on the family-teacher conference website.
  • Meet the Language Interpretation Needs of Families. Have interpreters ready to greet parents and provide assistance (you may consider asking family-volunteers to serve as interpreters). Schools can also directly connect with Language Line to obtain an over-the-phone interpreter in any of 200 languages any time of the day.

For additional guidance, review the Teacher Guide to Family-Teacher Conferences. To learn more about the requirements, consult the Pre-K for All Handbook for District Schools and Pre-K Centers (see page 65) or the Pre-K for All Handbook for NYCEECs(see page 104).

Additional Resources

Contact Us

If you need more support or cannot find what you are looking for, please contact your DECE Social Worker or email prekfamilyengagement@schools.nyc.gov.

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