Strong parent-school partnerships have been found to have a positive impact on student engagement and achievement, and not just at the primary school level. Not only do students achieve better, they also stay at school longer.
In 2008 the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (B.E.C.T.A) – funded by the Department of Children, Schools and Families in the UK – explored the effect of parental engagement in their children’s learning involving technology. A key finding indicated that parental engagement in children’s learning is a critical factor in student achievement up to the age of 16. Clearly parent engagement in their child’s education is vital for positive student outcomes.
So, how do we keep these positive connections with our children’s school, particularly beyond primary school? Some parents find this easier to achieve than others.
Many parents have told me that their past, personal experiences in education have prevented them from being directly involved with their children’s school, even at the primary level. Once their children move on to high school, they are even less inclined to ‘connect’ with the school. They feel inadequate and often totally ‘out of the loop’ with what’s going on at school. I ask these parents if there is a way to connect with confidence to their children’s school, would they? The answer is overwhelmingly ‘yes’.
In my experience, the vast majority of parents want the best for their children – they sometimes feel that their children head off to high school each day and enter a ‘vacuum’ until 3 pm…and they would like to know more about what is happening in that ‘vacuum’.
Of course, the capacity of parents to connect with their school, particularly their secondary school, is very much dependent on the willingness of the school to include parents as an integral part of the operation of the school. There is also a very big difference between parent involvement and parent engagement… and fortunately there is an increasing trend amongst schools to build stronger, more engaged connections with their parents.
Parent ‘involvement’ refers to the variety of ways parents support their child’s school. Assisting with canteen duties; supporting the reading programs within the classroom; fund- raising; P&C committees; working bees etc. These are all common and ‘structural’ ways parents have supported their schools in the past….”What can I DO for my school?” rather than “How can I support my child’s education?”
Parent ‘engagement’, on the other hand, refers to a much deeper level of ‘connectedness’ with their child’s education. Parents and teachers working together to achieve mutually agreed goals is REAL parent engagement….who knows your child better than you? But for many parents – and schools – this is a tough one.
‘Engagement’ does NOT suggest that we begin to question the professional knowledge and insights of teachers; but it DOES suggest that we, as parents, can make a huge difference to our children’s education if we are more switched on to what is happening in that ‘vacuum’… and more importantly, that we take a more proactive role in supporting what is happening at school and continuing this supporting influence at home.
CC’s are a great accompaniment to any Mexican meal, but Confer- Connect -Communicate are my CCC’s – and an ideal accompaniment to a strong partnership with your child throughout their school years and beyond.