Decades of research has proven that parental engagement in a child’s life results in a range of positive results for students. In fact, researchers Dawson and Hecht commented that there are very few examples of school-sponsored parent involvement programs that did not succeed in their intended goals. So while there has been a fairly significant degree of change in almost every area of our lives since this article was written in 1992, it does remain true that research continues to show parental engagement as a significant factor in a child’s success at school, irrespective of the parent’s socioeconomic status, education or racial background.
Toukley Public School (NSW) was part of a research initiative by the Smarter Schools National Partnership Key Reform Project that examined parental engagement in low socio-economic communities, and they too experienced the same kind of positive results echoed in other studies. The school found making personal approaches to parents the most successful strategy. Personal contact was supported by the school’s focus on putting parents, rather than the school, at the centre of the partnership effort. They also focussed on building parental capacity, as well as creating a culture of high expectations with the aim of raising student and family awareness, aspiration, and educational attainment around tertiary education. Progress has been gradual but positive, with improvements around greater involvement by fathers, more value placed on schooling by families and students, and a greater understanding of where education can lead. These are all fantastic outcomes for students and broader community.
Parents engaged in the schooling of their child can create a more cohesive learning experience for their child at home in line with what they are learning at school. Children who are supported in their schooling are also more likely to enjoy learning and see it as a natural part of their lives. In addition, optimistic learners are more likely to persist in the sometimes-hard work of learning, motivated by the belief that they can accomplish their learning goals. Another benefit to children when their parents are engaged in their schooling is the development of what experts refer to as “The Invisible Superpower”: Resilience. Through engaging with parents, educators can develop a greater understanding of children’s social and emotional development and can then scaffold experiences that assist children in becoming confident learners.
The communication necessary to drive parental engagement is now both simple and affordable via smartphones. School communication apps are now an increasingly common method employed by schools to stay in touch with parents. And tech-savvy millennial parents and teachers are well placed to take advantage of these developments.
When you are looking to implement technology-based solutions to drive parental engagement at your school, consider if the platform you are looking at meets all the crucial criteria: Australian-based ongoing support and an understanding of education environments, as well as the fantastic tech. After all, as Dawson and Hecht noted all the way back in 1992, parent involvement increases when the school reaches out and talks to parents on a more frequent and effective basis. The benefits to students are well proven.
What are your thoughts? We’d love to hear how parental engagement has benefitted students at your school.