Traditionally, when we thought of schooling, we focussed on teachers, principals, and other educators. But that’s starting to change. After decades of research showing that parental involvement plays a major role in a child’s achievements, suddenly everyone is talking about parent engagement and how it can empower both students and the wider school community.
A case study focussing on Pimlico State High School showed that with parental involvement facilitated through improved and frequent communication, classes that were previously poorly attended reached attendance levels of 90-95%. This massive improvement was attributed to the involvement of parents who could meaningfully support their children once they were made aware of what was going on at school. Feedback from students indicated that parental support was a big factor in their improved attendance and efforts. And research has shown that children who are happier perform better academically and are able to make better connections with their peers, not to mention positively affecting behaviour.
Findings by Olsen and Fuller in 2008 showed:
“… parental involvement improves achievement regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnic background, or the parents’ education level; it improves grades and test scores, school attendance and school completion rates, increases motivation and improves self-esteem, decreases socio-emotional, mental health and behavioural problems and leads to decreased use of drugs and alcohol.”
The key to successful collaboration between schools and parents is undoubtedly communication. Parents who are informed are able to keep track of school activities, return forms, easily book times for parent-teacher evenings, pay school fees and even volunteer for excursions or school literacy programs. All this benefits the school community as a whole. Schools that engage parents are more supported and respected in the wider community and programs run by these schools are usually more successful.
It’s not just students who reap the benefit from a whole school approach; teachers feel happier if they feel supported by parents. They are also more enthusiastic and more satisfied with their jobs. Teachers are empowered by getting to know their students’ families, especially if they come from different cultural backgrounds. If you are in an area with a Non-English Speaking Background (NESB) community, consider using a school communication app with a translation function to ensure everyone can be involved.
With the right tools in place, communication can be an efficient, effective and cost sensitive way to involve everyone in the life of your school.
We all want the same things for our children: to feel happy, love life, be safe and reach their full potential. So communicate clearly and communicate often. It is the key to building an inclusive school community. It really does take a village.
What are your thoughts? How do you communicate with the parents in your school community?