Having participated in many valuable discussions and academic literacies regarding the significant effects on home school collaboration, I consider that active involvement is a key factor in sustaining behaviour development and social competency skills, but more importantly, providing the motivation to encourage children to learn.
Understanding the process and dynamics of the education system may feel daunting to some parents and involvement can be defined through two relevant pathways. Firstly, how powerful and important is parental involvement? And secondly, how do we as educators repress the barriers that restrict involvement?
Breaking down the barriers and encouraging children to adopt positive mindsets to overcome perceived failures will, without question, result in consistent expectations and underpins the parents’ role as being morally responsible in helping to achieve the maximum learning opportunities for learners, hence playing their part in closing the attainment gap.
In May 2006, the Scottish Parliament introduced the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act (bit.ly/uked16feb01), which encouraged parental views and supported parents into school life. The introduction of the act emphasised that children’s learning was at its core. Participation outside of school, in areas such as homework, has always been a taboo subject, where arguments sway to the relevance and benefit of undertaking homework with parent support. Many argue that time should be spent in other ways in activities such as outdoor play, which as educators we fully endorse. Many factors need to be taken into account with regards to homework and an understanding of socio-economic backgrounds and family structure is paramount to be able to fully justify any benefits gained.
At Bannockburn Primary School (@bannps), Stirling ‘Family Time’ has been introduced and has been very successful in welcoming parents and extended family members to visit the classes during teaching time showcasing a ‘chunk’ of their child’s learning within a real environment. This programme initially started within the nursery setting but was quickly opened across the wider school due to positive feedback and responses from parents. The purpose and aims of family time were to increase parent involvement to above 85% across the whole school, not only through family time but during parent consultations, homework support, sports days, curriculum workshops and fundraising events. Opening doorways through teacher presence and promoting methods of communication and building relationships in a less formal capacity was another venture to be tackled.
In the work of Hartas, D (2011), research was conducted to access the relationship between home learning and parents’ status and how this was represented in educational achievement. Parents’ own experiences of education and qualifications were seen to be the dominant factor in influencing competencies of children’s learning. This research indicated that the power of parental involvement can be undermined not only by parental qualification but significantly by their income. In the study, there was a strong connection with ‘long-term cognitive and language rather than with their social-emotional outcomes’.
In reflection, I do understand the effects of some disadvantages faced by parents and the long term effects non-engagement may have in later life, but would also like to probe further and ask does engagement actually benefit and have a life-long effect on children’s learning or is it merely enrichment of lives? While I believe that the effects of parental involvement will never eradicate these disadvantages, I do feel that it can motivate and put value in meaningful life experiences regardless of socio-economic status. Driessen, G et al. (2007) paper examines Parental involvement as a strategy to expand the social and cognitive capacities of pupils looking specifically at low-educated and ethnic minority parents. Various forms of both parental and school-initiated involvement were examined, but the study reveals that the schools in question only viewed engagement for their own benefit. They provided a framework that allows greater autonomy and strengthened vital parent links with aims of reducing the attainment gap and increasing prospects for future careers in those children within the disadvantaged groups.
In my opinion, parental involvement promotes the social and emotional wellbeing of children whose parents are involved in their education have many advantages and minimise the social constraints that influence the child’s attitude and behaviour. This can be conveyed positively when parental involvement in an education establishment portrays a significant message that learning is crucial. Key factors including background, parents’ educational attainment, family structure, ethnicity and parental engagement are strongly connected to achievement and attainment. Further research shows that the impact of parental engagement arises from parental values and educational aspirations continuously demonstrated through enthusiasm from their own experiences of education. Effectively promoting parental engagement can positively reinforce the relationships between educational establishments, practitioners and parents by transcribing any existing educational inequalities.
In their work, Ho Sui-Chu and Willms (1996) stated that ‘the school has little eﬀect on individual attainment unless there are direct and explicit connections to learning and it is what parents do to support learning in the school and in the home that makes the diﬀerence to achievement’.
Parental involvement faces many barriers and the most common being work commitments, lack of time and childcare. Evidence also highlights that certain parents face considerable difficulties in their exchanges with professionals while there is a broadly held desire among most parents for more engagement in schooling, but are aware that there can be certain psychological barriers attributing to their involvement.
As a reflective practitioner, I welcome parental engagement and believe that it does make a signiﬁcant diﬀerence to achievement and how positive responses from learners can be executed in raising attainment. Involving parents and conversing in a non-judgemental way can help to break down barriers and create a platform in creating opportunities for better outcomes. Parent’s involvement can contribute and influence academic achievements, social and emotional growth and a child’s ability to learn raising many questions arise regarding the ‘purpose of engaging parents’ such as, are schools diverting responsibility of learning onto parents? Would enhanced programmes of engagement reflect the purpose of parental roles and experiences in schools? Parents are viewed upon as the main educators in their children’s lives so in the case of engagement where is parental influence and expertise represented and who would have the say in classifying important distinctions in parental involvement?
I believe that home-school collaboration is essential. Working hand-in-hand to share responsibility and make an impact on children’s education will result in increased self-esteem and positive attitudes.
Links & References
Driessen, G et al. (2007) Parental Involvement and Educational Achievement, British Educational Research Journal, 31(4), p.509- 532.
Hartas, D. (2011) Families’ social backgrounds matter: socio-economic factors, home learning and young children’s language, literacy and social outcomes, British Educational Research Journal, 37(6), p.893-914 bit.ly/ uked16feb02
Ho Sui-Chu and Willms (1996) cited: Dreistadt, J,R. (2009) Impact of Parental Involvement bit.ly/uked16feb03 Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006. Available: bit.ly/uked16feb04
The article originally appeared in the February edition of UKEdMagazine, which is freely available on Issuu