According to an article on the Canberra Time Online, “It has been strangely under-recognised in Australia that parents play a crucial role in educational outcomes.”


I’m not sure by whom? Every teacher I’ve ever met or worked with understands that the importance parents place on education has significant impacts on their children.

Perhaps, Dr Lance Emerson from the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) – who the article quotes – is referring to policy makers , bureaucrats and/or politicians? In that case I may agree with him!

This view may well be supported by the fact that while over 40 years of international research shows that increased parental engagement leads to, amongst other things, better test scores, higher grades, better attendance, higher graduation rates, lower drop-out rates, greater likelihood of higher education attainment, there is yet to be any attempt to measure parental engagement in Australia.


ARACY are working with the ACT Department of Education to address this. It should prove to be very interesting to follow their progress.


The article concluded with 5 ways to “engage” as a parent, which I’ve included below.


1. Read to and count with your children from birth – even 5 minutes a day can make a difference. Children who were read to when very young are much better readers at 15, in fact their reading scores are equivalent of up to a year’s additional schooling compared to children who weren’t read to.


2. Maintain a keen interest in what happens at school. This includes listening to your child’s experiences at school and supporting them to have the confidence when they experience setbacks. It also involves building good relationships with your child’s teachers and asking what you can do to help in their learning.


3. Talk with your teenager regularly about social issues. Talk about the issues of today and explore the ‘why’ questions – if you don’t know the answers, work together to figure out where you might find the answer. Teenagers who have regular discussion on contemporary issues are more proficient readers – in fact, their reading scores are equivalent to around half a year’s additional schooling.


4. Understand that your role is important and believe that your child can do their best. Supporting children’s aspirations and showing faith in their ability to achieve their goals has a very positive impact on their educational outcomes. Even if you didn’t enjoy school yourself, there is strong evidence that kids do better when their parents have high aspirations for them, when they talk about

the importance of education and encourage them to think big about the future – to develop a lifelong love for learning.


5. Help your children work through things that impact their overall wellbeing. Sometimes there are apparently small things happening at school or at home which can be the biggest issue for your child.


Author: Dan Haesler is a teacher, consultant and speaker at the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People seminars. His website is: and he tweets at @danhaesler