Keep Connected

A Workshop Series for Strengthening Relationships in Middle School Families

Middle School is An Exciting—and Scary—Time for Families

The middle and high school years are a time of great change for kids and families. New opportunities. New worries. New challenges. New relationships. It can be both a scary and exciting time.

It’s easy for families to get disconnected as kids grow up and other demands pull families apart. Yet staying connected is really important for both parents and kids. Keeping these relationships strong is also important for kids’ success in school and in life.

Search Institute has developed Keep Connected, a research-based approach to give parents and youth an opportunity to learn about keys to positive family relationships, and then come together to try new ways to stay connected even as kids grow up and become more independent.

What Families Learn

Through this seven-session workshop series (90 minutes per session), families:

  • Discover five keys to powerful parent-youth relationships.
  • Learn practical ways to show care, support, and challenge as kids grow up.
  • Try ways to share power in the family, even when it’s not comfortable.
  • Explore new possibilities for kids and their future.
  • Celebrate families’ journey together into the teen years.

What the Sessions Include

This family workshop series consists of 90-minute sessions that include:

  • Parents learning from each other
  • Youth exploring the same topics with other youth
  • Time for parents and youth to practice what they learn together

Click here to learn more.


The Development Process

In Winter-Spring 2016, Keep Connected was created and tested in five locations across the United States. Systematic feedback from prototype sites was used to update the materials and approach. The model was tested systematically in five sites during the 2016-2017 school year. 

Learn insights from the 2016 prototype development project by downloading materials from a poster presentation at the 2016 National Council on Family Relations Annual Conference: Strengthening Parent-Youth Relationships; A Gateway to Family Engagement:

Workshop Overview

The Keep Connected program includes seven workshop sessions that bring parenting adults together for learning and support. Between each session, families do activities at home to help them learn and grow together.

1. Thriving Through the Teenage Years: The Power of Family Relationships: Participants will explore relationships that have made a difference to them based on five keys from Search Institute research. They will explore their experiences with these five keys in their own families.

2. You Already Care—How Do You Show It? As young people grow up, they often shift in the kinds of care and support they appreciate and need. This session gives families opportunities to explore what’s already working and what they might adjust.

3. Sharing Power—Even When It's Not Comfortable: Most parents can talk about some power struggles they have experienced—particularly as they enter the teen years. Teens and parents try strategies for sharing power in ways that reflect their values.

4. Challenging Growth without Pushing Away: Family relationships are stronger when family members challenge each other to learn and grow. In this session, family members explore ways they inspire and stretch each other to keep working toward goals.

5. It's a Big World Out There: Helping Each Other Discover Possibilities: A big part of growing up is discovering new options for the future. Families grow together by trying new things, going new places, and meeting new people. In this session, families explore options that fit for them.

6. Celebrating Your Family’s Journey through the Teen Years: In this final session, families work together to identify one commitment they will follow through with to create a “good habit” or routine to keep connected.

7. Graduation: Keep Connected concludes with a graduation celebration, in which families reflect on what they have learned and celebrate their commitment to each other.

Powered by ParentFurther and Search Institute

Keep Connected uses ParentFurther’s interactive features and research-based content to provide an engaging and flexible learning and community-building experience for parents and their youth—and your school or organization.

It builds on Search Institute’s decades of research on youth development and family strengths—including its latest research on developmental relationships in families.