‘Parental involvement in the form of ‘at-home good parenting’ has a significant positive effect on children’s achievement and adjustment even after all other factors shaping attainment have been taken out of the equation.’ Desforges and Abouchar, 2003
Effective communication is essential for building school-family partnerships. It constitutes the foundation for all other forms of family engagement. However, ‘parental engagement’ does not always mean the same thing to parents and schools,’ Martinez and Velazquez, 2000.
There is substantial evidence that parent engagement benefits pupils, including raising achievement, motivation for learning, regular attendance, and positive attitudes about school in general.
Good two-way communication between families and schools is necessary for success. Not surprisingly, research shows that the more parents and teachers share relevant information with each other about a pupil, the better equipped both will be to help them.
Opportunities to communicate with parents include:
- Newsletters and bulletins
- Parent forums
- Emails and SMS messages
- Website, blogs and social media
- Phone calls and face-to-face conversations
- Home visits
- Annual open days / annual special events / annual special person days
Personal contact seems to be the most effective form of communication and probably the most familiar. However, the establishment of effective how-school communication has grown ever more complex as society has changed. Diversity among families means it is not possible to rely on a single method of communication that will reach all homes with a given message.
It is therefore essential we use a variety of strategies, adapted to the needs of particular families and the school context, and this be incorporated into a parental engagement plan.
Research shows parental engagement can free teachers to focus more on the task of teaching children. By having more contact with parents, teachers learn more about pupils’ needs and home environment, which means they are better informed to meet their needs.
If there are important messages for parents who are less involved, face-to-face conversations, phone calls, or text messages are likely to be more effective than generic emails or letters home.
Parents who are involved tend to have a more positive view of teachers, which results in improved teacher morale. Parents also benefit from being involved by getting ideas from school to support their child and by being informed of the learning taking place.
This blog was written by Bretta Townend-Jowitt, Education Consultant and Trainer.
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