The involvement of parents in children’s education is not a new idea. It has been researched for many years. However, what has changed is how parents are involved in the education system. In the early days of formal schooling, parents gave up control of their children’s education to the professionals. As civic participation increased, parents were invited to become more involved with schools. Schools asked parents to help out in classrooms, canteen and also to join school boards and committees.
This model of parental involvement was reflected in education policy for many years. But the policy agenda has now changed. Parents and educators are now asked to work together more closely. This has led to the use of terms such as ‘partnership’ and ‘engagement’ in the education world.
The COVID-19 pandemic has decimated our parent/school relationship. Lockdowns and blocking parents from entering the school, while all in the name of keeping our students and staff safe, has had a debilitating impact upon schools.
Schools are generally seen as places of learning, where young people go to learn in a safe environment. They are also places of teaching and learning with parents too. The way schools engage with parents can have a significant impact upon their children’s education. Parents are the first educators of their children, so they play an important part in developing their children’s education, both formal and informal.
For most parents their involvement is through attending the learning activities of their children – they engage with school by talking to teachers, helping with homework, talking about school subjects at home and participating in voluntary activities within the school. Parental involvement can also involve having more of a leadership role. This may include talking with other parents and teachers, organising events and fundraisers for the school, helping with administration tasks and representing the school.
There are many benefits to be gained from parental involvement in schools:
- Parents feel that their children’s learning experiences are enhanced;
- Parents and educators work together to improve student outcomes;
- Parents and the wider school community feel more connected;
- There is a sense of community at the school – this reduces bullying and low-level disruption;
- Schools become ‘communities of learning’ rather than just ‘learning environments’.
But what happens when these relationships break down? The COVID pandemic has certainly played a part in disrupting parent engagement. Schools have spent more time on lockdown while the COVID pandemic has been at its peak, and this has meant parents couldn’t enter school grounds to attend conferences for their children or do other school-related business. Even when the pandemic began to decline from its peak, parents became increasingly frustrated with being unable to support their children at school.
Researchers have looked at what kind of parental involvement is best for student achievement in recent decades. They found that the biggest impact comes from parents’ expectations and what they do at home, not what they do in the classroom. Good parenting at home is considered to be the best way for children to learn. This is especially true when there are good relationships between the home and school.
Researchers have looked at what kind of parental involvement is best for student achievement in recent times. They found that the biggest impact comes from parents’ expectations and what they do at home, not what they do in the classroom. Good parenting at home is considered to be the best way for children to learn. This is especially true when there are good relationships between the home and school.
What can parents do to help their children succeed at school, even when they don’t know what they’re doing?
Here are five tips:
Tip #01: Establish a good relationship with the school. This should involve communicating with the teacher regularly, attending parent-teacher nights and being an active member of the school community.
Tip #02: Be involved in your child’s learning activities. Help them with their homework, talk about what they learned at school that day and be aware of their academic progress.
Tip #03: Show interest in your child’s education. Attend teacher/parent meetings, P&F gatherings, graduation ceremonies and other important events at the school, read books together that are related to what your child is learning at school and discuss these books.
Tip #04: Set high expectations for your child. Help them to understand that school is important and support their efforts to do well in their studies.
Tip #05: Foster a positive relationship with your child. This includes providing emotional support, being encouraging and praising your child’s accomplishments.
When relationships break down between schools and parents, it has a significant impact on student achievement – so it’s important for both parties to work together to maintain strong links. By following the tips above, parents can help their children succeed at school, even when they don’t know what they’re doing!