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Why Are Parents Involved In Students Education

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    Parents are always interested in their children's education. If they're not, then they should be! But, too often, parents can become disconnected from their child’s school life and forget that it is one of the most important aspects of their lives. 

    After all, these years will shape who your children turn out to be later on in life. They will also help them build skills that last a lifetime - like working hard for what they want or need, making friends; and taking care of themselves when sick or hurt. 

    As a parent, you have an enormous influence over your child's success in school right now - so don't miss any opportunities with them by staying too busy at home with other things!

    Many studies have shown that when parents are involved in their child's education, the child is more likely to do well. This blog post will go into detail about why this is and what you can do to get involved. 

    Let's face it-kids need help with homework, projects, communicating with teachers and managing their time. We know how hard it can be balancing work or other obligations while also being available for your kids during school hours. But there are ways you can still be involved without even leaving home!   

    There are many reasons why parents should be involved in their student's education. For example, they can help the students with homework and make sure they turn it in on time, answer questions about classwork, and give them encouragement when needed. Parents may also do things like speak to teachers or administration if there is a concern about bullying or other problems at school. 

    Parent Engagement in Learning

    Parent engagement in learning is known to lead to improved outcomes for students of all ages. Schools and teachers can support parent engagement by building partnerships to connect learning at home and school.

    Parent Engagement And Involvement

    The terms parent engagement and parent involvement describe how parents and families support their children's academic achievement and wellbeing. Parent involvement usually focuses on school-based activities such as attending events or volunteering in class.

    Parent engagement encompasses children's learning at home, at school, and in the community, recognising families and communities’ cultural and social diversity. There is strong evidence linking parent engagement with improvements in academic achievement for children of all ages.

    Learning At Home

    Learning at home is important in building children's confidence, motivation, capability and competence as learners. Schools and teachers with a partnership mindset can value and support learning at home by communicating effectively, building trust, and sharing information and resources with families.

    Partnerships

    Family-school and community partnerships support positive parent engagement and bring together family and community resources to enrich student learning and wellbeing.

    Effective partnerships focus on student needs and are motivated by a common and often shared purpose. They recognise that partners offer different knowledge, expertise and resources to support children's education.

    Policy context

    Australian governments recognise the central role of parents and families in supporting children's learning, development and wellbeing.

    The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians, signed by all Australian Ministers for Education in 2008, recognises the importance of family, school and community partnerships.

    Parent engagement in learning has been a key focus area in the Australian Government's schooling policy reforms to improve outcomes for all Australian students.

    How Parents Help Their Child Do Well At School

    Parent engagement in learning is known to lead to improved outcomes for students of all ages. Schools and teachers can support parent engagement by building partnerships to connect learning at home and school.

    Parent Engagement And Involvement

    The terms parent engagement and parent involvement describe how parents and families support their children's academic achievement and wellbeing. Parent involvement usually focuses on school-based activities such as attending events or volunteering in class.

    Parent engagement encompasses children's learning at home, at school, and in the community, recognising families and communities’ cultural and social diversity. There is strong evidence linking parent engagement with improvements in academic achievement for children of all ages.

    The Family-School Partnerships Framework

    The Family-School Partnerships Framework was developed to promote and guide partnership building. The Framework was developed by the Australian Parents Council, the Australian Council of State School Organisations and the Australian Government and endorsed by Australia’s Education Ministers in 2008.

    The core principles of effective family-school partnerships are:

    • parents and families are the first and continuing educators of their children
    • learning is lifelong and occurs in multiple settings
    • partnerships, schools and school communities flourish when the diversity and strengths of families are valued and leveraged
    • community engagement expands responsibility and resources
    • partnerships grow from mutual trust, respect and responsibility
    • partnerships need committed, collaborative and creative leadership.

    'Family-school and community partnerships are an effective way to support and empower positive parent engagement, and bring together family and community resources to enrich student learning and wellbeing.'

    The Framework is for use by school leaders, teachers and school teams to support partnerships between schools and families. There is a series of materials below to support the Framework, offering research insights, practical advice and a range of resources.

    Teachers: Involving Parents In School

    Good parent-school partnerships are one of the best ways to support children’s learning, development and wellbeing. And these partnerships have benefits for you as an educator and for parents too.

    Children whose parents are involved in school:

    • perform better at school
    • settle better into school programs
    • feel valued and important because their parents are taking an interest in their lives
    • develop positive social skills by watching parents and school staff interact respectfully
    • have better social, physical and emotional wellbeing.

    When parents are involved in school, staff:

    • have higher job satisfaction
    • experience less stress
    • can better tailor their approaches to learning and teaching because they have more insight into children’s needs
    • benefit indirectly from parent help in classrooms, sports days and libraries, or from parent participation in school committees and so on.

    Parents who are involved at school:

    • can share their child’s strengths and interests with staff and suggest learning opportunities to build on these
    • feel empowered to raise concerns and negotiate solutions with staff
    • experience less stress because they know they can work with staff on concerns about their child’s learning or development.
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    Parents are members of the community too. Through parental involvement, the school gets to know the community better. This means the school is more likely to offer services relevant to the community and improve community well-being.

    Building a partnership with parents is important not just in schools but in child care services too. If you’re a child care educator, you can use many of the suggestions in this article to build beneficial partnerships with the parents you work with.

    Schools: Getting To Know Parents And Families

    For teachers and other school professionals working with parents, getting to know families is key to promoting parental involvement and developing partnerships. The best way to get to know parents is by:

    • sharing information about the school with parents
    • asking parents for information about their families.

    Sharing Information With Parents

    When you’re sharing information about the school, it’s always good to tell parents about what your school does and why.

    For example, you might have a school handbook or prospectus that outlines your school’s values and philosophy. The handbook might also include all the practical information parents need when they’re sending children to your school, like uniforms, bell times, policies, procedures and so on. You might want to make this information available on a school website too.

    When parents have access to information about the school, they’re more likely to feel comfortable and confident in their school choice and your school’s decisions.

    Asking Parents For Information About Their Families

    A good initial message to parents is that the teachers respect children as individuals and are interested in them. Of course, you can say this explicitly, but you can also send this message by asking for information about children and families.

    For example, before children start at your school, you might ask parents questions like the following:

    • What are you and your child hoping to get from the school?
    • How do you like to be kept informed about the school?
    • What kind of information do you need to help us to support you?
    • In what ways do you think you might like to be involved in the school?
    • Does your child have any additional learning or other needs?
    • Does your family have any special circumstances or support needs?

    When you get this kind of information, you can better understand the everyday lives of the families at your school. And getting to know families better can help you think of ways to involve parents based on their availability and their interests. For example, learning that a parent works for the fire service might be a great opportunity to get firefighters to visit the school.

    It’s good to give parents many options for getting involved in schools. For example, some parents might like to help with classroom reading, whereas others find it easier to do committee work outside of school hours. In addition, many like to come to special days and events, help with excursions or canteen duties, or take part in working bees and fetes.

    Classroom Teachers: Establishing Partnerships

    A welcome or greeting is a great way for classroom teachers to help new students and their parents feel included and get a partnership going. This greeting could be a note or email.

    You could use your greeting to give a short summary of your philosophy and teaching practices. Remember that parents aren’t teaching experts, so avoid professional jargon and use plain English that everyone can understand.

    The greeting can also be a chance for you to set out classroom policies, like what the school does to encourage good behaviour and handle disruptive behaviour.

    And if you send a welcome greeting, you can also take the opportunity to learn more from parents, perhaps by including a short questionnaire about how they think their child is going.

    It’s always good to let parents know how they can reach you – for example, in informal conversations before and after school or by email, phone or appointment. You might also want to invite all parents to a class meeting in the first or second week.

    Keeping In Regular Touch With Parents

    After you’ve settled into class with your students, parents will appreciate regular updates on what’s happening.

    The more you can tell parents about what’s happening in the classroom and playground, your partnership will be better. And when you have regular contact about everyday classroom activities and experiences, it makes it easier to talk with parents if there’s ever a problem.

    There are a few ways you can keep in regular touch with parents.

    You could choose one parent per day and speak to them either on the phone or in person, before or after class. And you could try sending home ‘good news’ messages about all students’ behaviour and progress.

    A weekly print or electronic newsletter is also a good idea. Some teachers use apps, websites or emails for weekly news. Whichever option you choose, you can use it to:

    • let parents know what has been happening
    • tell them about upcoming events
    • invite parents to help in the classroom.

    Try to make sure that your weekly update is accessible for parents from low-literacy backgrounds or parents who speak languages other than English.

    And remember that parents usually like to hear positive things about their children. So it’s great to highlight children’s positive achievements, attitudes or behaviour.

    Learning isn’t limited to the classroom. Encouraging parents to continue children’s learning at home can enhance education. You can do this by updating parents on children’s learning and suggesting what they can do at home. For example, ‘We practised fractions in class today. Your children could show you the fractions they learned by adding up slices of apple’.

    How To Tell If A Partnership Is Working

    If parents are really involved in their children’s lives at school, they’ll be more willing to share information, ask questions, make requests, voice concerns and give constructive feedback.

    Parents and teachers can keep their partnership strong by having ongoing informal conversations about children and sharing daily achievements and experiences.

    Parental Engagement

    We define parental engagement as the involvement of parents in supporting their children’s academic learning. It includes: 

    • approaches and programs which aim to develop parental skills such as literacy or IT skills; 
    • general approaches which encourage parents to support their children with, for example, reading or homework; 
    • the involvement of parents in their children’s learning activities; and 
    • more intensive programs for families in crisis.

    How Effective Is It?

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    Although parental engagement is consistently associated with students’ success at school, the evidence about how to improve achievement by increasing parental engagement is mixed and much less conclusive, particularly for disadvantaged families. 

    Two recent meta-analyses suggested that increasing parental engagement in primary and secondary schools positively impacted on average two to three months. In addition, there is some evidence that supporting parents with their first child will have benefits for siblings. 

    However, there are also examples where combining parental engagement strategies with other interventions, such as extended early years provision, has not been associated with additional educational benefits. This suggests that developing effective parental engagement to improve their children’s achievement is challenging and needs careful monitoring and evaluation. 

    Parents’ aspirations also appear to be important for student outcomes, although there is limited evidence to show that intervening to change parents’ aspirations will raise their children’s aspirations and achievement over the longer term. 

    Research from a review of Australasian literature suggests that the relationship between parental involvement and students’ outcomes differs according to the nature of the involvement and is stronger for parental expectations than other forms of parental involvement, such as attending community events and parent-teacher conversations. 

    There is also a strong positive relationship between tailored parental involvement in learning and academic achievement. In addition, more consistent parental involvement is associated with better outcomes.

    In Australia, a 2012 literature review by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth emphasises the value of parental involvement. The authors distinguish parental involvement in schooling (for example, attending community events) and involvement in learning, arguing that improving the latter is key to affecting academic outcomes. However, high-quality evaluations of specific parental involvement programs in Australia are rare, and new studies in this area would be valuable.

    How Secure Is The Evidence?

    The association between parental engagement and a child’s academic success is well established, and there is a long history of research into parental engagement programs. However, there is surprisingly little robust evidence about the impact of approaches designed to improve learning through increased parental engagement.

    The evidence is predominantly from the primary level and the early years, though there are studies which have looked at secondary schools. Impact studies tend to focus on reading and mathematics achievement.

    What Are The Costs?

    The costs of different approaches vary enormously, from running parent workshops (about $100 per session) and improving cheap communications to intensive family support programs with specially trained staff. The cost of a specialist community or home/school liaison teacher is estimated at about $42,800. Assuming a specialist teacher is used, costs per student are estimated as moderately high.

    What Should I Consider?

    Engagement is often easier to achieve with parents of very young children. How will you maintain parental engagement as children get older?

    Have you provided a flexible approach to allow parental engagement to fit around parents’ schedules? For example, parents of older children may appreciate short sessions at flexible times.

    How will you make your school welcoming for parents, especially those whose own school experience may not have been positive?

    What practical support, advice and guidance can you give to parents who are not confident in their ability to support their children’s learning, such as simple strategies to help early readers?

    Parental involvement is essential for student development and offers many benefits. ... It also helps improve student behavior in the classroom. Having parents and teachers communicate more helps students feel more motivated in their classes; their self-esteem and attitudes in class improve.

    Parents can demonstrate involvement at home-by reading with their children, helping with homework, and discussing school events-or at school, by attending functions or volunteering in classrooms.

    Benefits for the Children

    Children generally achieve better grades, test scores, and attendance. Children consistently complete their homework. Children have better self-esteem, are more self-disciplined, and show higher aspirations and motivation toward school.

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