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Partnering with Parents Part 1: What Is Parental Engagement?

happy family doing homework together

This is the first in a series looking at parental engagement in schools, covering both primary and secondary education.

What happens to a student’s educational journey once they leave the classroom? The hope is that they come back the next day with a renewed vigour for learning, along with all homework completed. Of course, the reality is often quite different. The reasons for missing homework can vary, from the stereotypically humourous tale of a hungry pet, to the more concerning issue of a pupil not understanding the work they’ve been set and not communicating this. Another scenario is time management. Like many subjects in school, this isn’t something that comes naturally to most people, and mastering it requires practice and guidance.

Well-worn tales and excuses alike can all be challenged with parental engagement. While a school planner does, of course, give students ownership of their studying, when used with the help of a parent, it can really become a powerful tool to successfully manage their time spent studying outside of school.

Why is it important to have a strategy for engaging with parents? It’s there on the government’s website in black and white.

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-12-20-45Further confirmation exists beyond the government’s reach too, here and here (and that’s just scraping the surface).

We know it’s important, and for the most part, it is largely self explanatory. However, for those in the back who may be new to the class, what IS parental engagement? It’s basically the involvement of parents in their child’s education, supporting them with learning outside of the classroom, right? Perhaps one of the main barriers to opening meaningful dialogue with parents is the traditional view that parental engagement literally means to help their children with homework and that’s it. The reality, however, now goes beyond the typical parental worry that they won’t be able to effectively help support their child with homework.

Parental engagement in today’s school settings covers a much broader area. It will also include discussion, moral support, guidance, and interactions between school and home. The overarching goal with strong home-school communication is usually maximising support available for students and increasing the likelihood that any issues or problems will be identified quickly.

There are several approaches to parental engagement, and implementing a strategy will largely depend on the school and its age group. In this series of blogs, we will be looking at the main concerns around parental engagement, and some of the most frequently used methods of addressing it.

We’d also be interested to hear your stories; do you find parental engagement particularly difficult for your school? Maybe you’ve got a strategy that works remarkably well and you want to share it. Drop us a comment or email us here to share your story.

Next week: Some of the biggest barriers in engaging parents