Active parental participation in education significantly impacts a child’s school success. Studies reveal that students with engaged parents often perform better academically, show positive behaviour, and display improved social skills.
Nevertheless, involving parents is not a universal solution and should be adjusted according to each family’s and school’s unique requirements. This blog outlines various strategies that can foster effective parent involvement in education.
Also Read: Importance of Girl Child Education in India
Understanding the Different Dimensions of Involvement
Parent involvement in education can occur in different ways – at home, in school, and through communication with teachers. It involves a range of activities, from helping with homework and reinforcing learning at home to volunteering in the classroom or participating in school decisions.
- Encouraging Learning at Home: Educators can encourage parents to create a conducive learning environment at home by providing guidelines on how to support homework completion and offering tips for encouraging reading and numeracy skills. Parent educational workshops and resources can also help parents understand the curriculum and how to complement it at home.
- Fostering Parent-Teacher Communication: Regular communication between parents and teachers is critical. Teachers should aim to establish clear, open, and positive communication lines with parents from the very beginning. This can be facilitated through parent-teacher conferences, the use of digital communication platforms, regular newsletters, and progress reports.
- Creating Volunteer Opportunities: Schools can develop a variety of volunteer opportunities for parents, such as assisting in the classroom, helping with school events, or participating in committees. These opportunities should be flexible and account for parents’ availability and skills.
- Involving Parents in Decision-Making: Involving parents in school governance, such as in school boards or parent councils, fosters a sense of ownership and partnership in the educational process. Policies and programs are more likely to succeed when parents have a say in their formation and implementation.
Overcoming Barriers to Parental Involvement
Despite the benefits, some obstacles can hinder parental involvement in education. These barriers can include time constraints, lack of understanding of the educational system, language differences, or past negative experiences with schooling. The schools must take cognisance of these barriers to get parents involved.
- Addressing Time Constraints and Work Schedules: Schools can accommodate parents’ busy schedules by offering meetings at various times or providing child care during events and workshops.
- Bridging Language and Cultural Gaps: For parents who are not fluent in the language of instruction, schools can provide materials in their native language and employ interpreters during meetings. Culturally sensitive approaches to involvement should be considered to respect and incorporate the values and traditions of all families.
- Reaching Out to Disengaged Parents: Schools can make extra efforts to engage parents who have had negative experiences with education or who are typically less involved. Personalized communication, mentoring programs, and creating an inviting school climate can help bridge this gap.
- Utilizing Technology: Online parent portals, emails, and text messaging can make it easier for parents to stay informed and engaged without traditional barriers such as transportation and time limitations.
Best Practices for Effective Involvement
Effective parent involvement is deliberate and inclusive. Here are some best practices that schools and educators can consider:
- Develop a Parent Involvement Policy
- A good policy could provide the following :
- Opportunities for parents to participate, accommodating different schedules and interests. For instance, it could include options such as volunteering in the classroom, attending workshops, serving on school committees, and supporting home-based learning activities.
- Mandate training for school staff on effective strategies for engaging parents and creating welcoming school environments.
- Offer support for non-English speaking families and those with limited availability due to work or other commitments.
- Continuous Evaluation and Feedback
- Educator Training
- Collaborate with Community Organizations
Schools should conduct surveys or hold focus group discussions with parents to understand their perspectives, needs, and the barriers they face in becoming involved. Following this, schools should establish a clear vision for parent involvement, defining specific roles and responsibilities. This should align with the school’s mission and educational goals.
Schools should continuously assess their parent involvement strategies and seek feedback from parents to improve programs and policies. For instance, if feedback indicates a need for more flexible meeting times, schools might offer virtual conferences or alternative schedules to accommodate working parents.
The evaluation process must be transparent, with schools communicating not only the feedback received but also the actions taken in response. This transparency reinforces trust and signals a genuine commitment to partnership with parents.
To foster continuous improvement, schools should celebrate successes and acknowledge areas where parent involvement strategies need strengthening, maintaining an open dialogue about the evolving needs of families and the school.
Teachers and school administrators can benefit from professional development on how to effectively engage with parents and develop culturally responsive strategies.
Teachers play a crucial role in establishing and maintaining collaborative relationships with parents, which can significantly influence their involvement in education. It is important to train educators in communication skills, cultural sensitivity, and outreach strategies. The training should cover a variety of communication tools and platforms, such as parent-teacher conferences, emails, newsletters, and school websites, setting boundaries and managing difficult conversations. Teachers must be adept at utilizing technology to keep in touch with parents and provide regular updates on students’ progress.
Role-playing scenarios can be an effective teaching method, allowing teachers to practice handling sensitive issues with tact and professionalism. By incorporating these elements, a training program can effectively prepare teachers for meaningful parental engagement.
Schools can partner with community organizations that support families and education to extend resources and services to parents.
Achieving effective parent involvement in education requires a consistent, collaborative effort between schools, families, and communities. One of the strategies followed at EuroSchool is the “Multishift timing” batch to accommodate the diverse needs of families. By recognizing and respecting the varied ways parents contribute to education, we aim to foster a partnership that enhances the academic and social development of students.