Life is busy. And sometimes it can seem that keeping track of all the comings and goings at school is just another task to add to the already gargantuan list that parents need to get through. However, when parents engage with their child’s school, it creates a successful partnership with great results for students, schools and parents. Research has shown the benefits of parental engagement in children’s education include, among others, better academic outcomes and fewer behavioural issues, so we all have a stake in making sure we get it right. As ever, the key to it all is communication.

Parents want to be more involved in both their child’s education and the broader school community but are not always sure what to do to best support their child in a meaningful way. So, what does parental engagement really mean? And how much is enough to make a difference?

Parental engagement refers to the broader role parents play in supporting their child’s learning. While children are younger and in a preschool setting, parental involvement tends to consist of activities like parents helping with story time or excursions and face-to-face chats with the educators at drop off and pick up. However, once children start primary school, research has shown a reduction in this type of direct involvement in classroom activities and committees. As children make their way through school, the nature of parental engagement changes. Research in the ACT found that “Parental engagement is most effective when it is focused on developing positive attitudes towards learning and education for children, building their motivation and confidence as learners and fostering their enjoyment of learning”. Schools can help parents to do this by communicating clearly and often.

As schools embrace communication apps to keep parents in the loop, it is easier than ever to be armed with the right information. Evidence shows that when regular communication channels suit families’ needs and schedules, family-school partnerships are stronger. Increasingly, schools are using fully integrated mobile apps to achieve this. Having a secure, dedicated, virtual environment for school means it’s easy for parents to keep on top of what’s happening at school, and have the right information on hand. It also makes it easy for separated parents, carers and grandparents all stay informed.

In an era of information overload, having a dedicated channel reduces stress levels for parents by giving them confidence they will always get the reminder to pack sports uniforms or that their daughter will be dancing at the school assembly. They can communicate with educators to check in what is being covered in class so they can chat with their children at home. They can contact business managers to check the bus to the excursion has been paid for. Essentially, a school mobile app creates an open line of communication between parents and schools.

Having the capacity to communicate directly with school allows parents to show support in a meaningful way that positively impacts on their child’s future and utilising a streamlined system of communication can restore ‘information sanity’ to even the busiest of parents. Everyone wins!

What are your thoughts? How does your school use technology to involve parents?

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