When we’re discussing parent engagement, we’re talking about efforts made by parents which directly contribute to a child’s success in school and subsequently, in life. It’s an idea based on the collaboration between parents and school staff with the goal of improving the development of children.
The idea itself is not very new. We’ve known for over 120 years that parents and teachers should work together and the rich history of the National Parent Teacher Association is the proof of that. However, the relationship in that alliance has evolved significantly in the last couple of decades and the positive effects of parent engagement are duly recognized in the scientific community.
How Does It Benefit Your Child?
Research has shown that engaging parents in their child’s education can be very valuable for the child in more ways than one. Numerous studies support the thesis that parent engagement increases academic achievement through improved school attendance, higher grades, and better test scores. This effect is produced by a number of factors, which include setting high expectations, developing useful routines and habits, creating an environment that encourages learning, building a warm and cooperative home setting, and actively supporting the child All of these factors also contribute to the parent as a strong role model.
But parent engagement affects child development beyond these school-defined conditions and it can also help build desirable character traits. Having engaged parents can inspire more positive attitudes towards particular subjects and reduce the risk of children getting involved with substance abuse and problematic behavior. Lastly, it increases confidence and helps children become more well-adjusted.
Types of Parent Engagement
A great way for differentiating between different types of parent engagement is through the use of Dr. Joyce Epstein’s Framework. She recognizes six types of parental involvement:
- Parenting – establishing a proper home environment that provides the child with optimal learning conditions
- Communicating – creating effective, two-way channels of communication between parents and the school staff
- Volunteering – engaging parents in volunteering practices to help with school-related activities
- Learning at home – providing parents with helpful information which empowers them to take part in and contribute to home-learning activities
- Decision making – including parents in school-related decisions and providing them with a forum to express their opinions
- Collaborating with community – utilizing community resources to improve school practices and student learning
Since parent engagement is a team effort, both the parents and the school bear the responsibility of taking an active approach. There is plenty that can be done on each side of the partnership, but the primary condition is acting in good faith while acknowledging the importance these activities will have on child development.
What Can Teachers Do?
The school normally reaches out to the parents and establishes channels of communication, but that doesn’t mean it always should. The teacher’s role in parent engagement is consultative but with high demands for taking initiative. They should actively partake in all of the 6 types of parent engagement because their expertise is invaluable in these situations.
Building strong and personal relationships around mutual goals are key for making all other attempts impactful and efficient. If you succeed to make this the foundation, you can build on it by consulting or educating parents. Invite them to learn more about what’s going on at school and give them a chance to influence the decisions that are being made. The parents will also be more open to engaging in school activities and volunteering if they are better acquainted with you and your goals. Finally, try to build the momentum of cooperative spirit by including the community’s resources to improve the learning experiences of children.
What Can Parents Do?
Any activity a parent engages in with a goal of improving their child’s education is a valid topic for discussion with teachers, including some of the other members of the school staff. So whatever you do, try to make an effort to seek out and utilize their council. They’re experienced in education, well-acquainted with your child’s situation and might have some insights about your child’s behavior you aren’t aware of.
One of the suggestions for parents is todevelop the right environment for their children. Children will spend a vast majority of their time at home. But just because they’re not at school doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be learning. At home with our kids, we can provide them with a relaxed and informal way of getting to know the world and its intricacies. There are many ways in which you can create a great learning environment at home.
Parents should also work on communicating with their children. Start by simply talking more often and work your way up the ladder. You can even create daily routines that will allow you an opportunity to talk to one another or adjust the existing ones where talking won’t distract you from what you’re doing. Chores and mealtimes are a great place to start. Be sure to show interest in their activities and praise effort over results.
What’s Stopping You from Being More Engaged in Your Child’s Education?
A parent’s greatest joy is to see their child grow and learn. We want them to be confident, responsible and develop habits for being productive in the workplace of tomorrow. Most of us are aware that we can contribute to our child’s education, yet we’re not always choosing to do so. Is it that we’re too tired from working all day and we can’t focus because our energy levels are running low? Or is it that we think they’ll be better off if they do it all by themselves? It’s an interesting question to ask, and it is one that can shed light on what we prioritize over our child’s education.
Studies show our engagement can improve our child’s chances of success but how engaged should we get? The answer may change based on a given situation, but parent engagement certainly needs to be a balanced effort. Your best bet is probably staying somewhere in the middle, trying not to fall into the trap of being too careless with your child, but still allowing them room to grow and explore.
AuthorBio: Mark is a biz-dev hero at Invoicebus – a simple invoicing service that gets your invoices paid faster. He passionately blogs on topics that help small biz owners succeed in their business. He is also a lifelong learner who practices mindfulness and enjoys long walks in nature more than anything else.