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Keeping your family-school partnerships strong

written & curated by michael grose & the parentingideas team
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2 May

Building strong partnerships with parents

Submitted by:
Michael Grose
 Strong family-school partnerships enhance student learning. Numerous studies show that family engagement impacts student achievement in the following ways:
  • Students achieve higher marks
  • Strong school attendance levels
  • Students enjoy school more
  • Students challenge themselves more

Partnerships enhance student learning when schools put programs and processes in place that link their parents to student learning.

These programs and processes need to do three specific things. First, they should help parents understand what good teaching and learning looks like. Second, they should build their capacities to help their children learn relative to their age and educational stage. Third, they should build parents’ knowledge of your schools’ aims and objectives as well as the individual goals for their children.

Aim for high impact activities

Most schools have limited resources and time to assist parents so it’s smart to focus on those activities that produce the best results and have the greatest impact. Often teachers spend their time on low impact relationship-building and linking to learning activities with parents. Sending home some notes about how to help a child work better at home is an example of a low impact activity. Holding a ‘How to help your child be a better reader’ workshop is a high impact activity. It’s best to focus your efforts on activities that may take more effort, yet have far more impact in terms of linking parents to their children’s learning.

Here are some examples of high impact activities:

1. Exhibit children’s schoolwork in the school and around the community with an explanation of what the students learned and how this relates to school’s goals.

2. Conduct a ‘language of school’ program for new parents. This can be an annual workshop focusing on acronyms, reports, timetables and other educational terms and concepts. This type of workshop is ideal for new both primary and secondary school parents.

3. Conduct a ‘Role construction’ workshop. Help parents work out their job description as a parent and co-teacher so they know how to assist and how to work in partnership with you.

4. Phone parents with student breakthroughs rather than waiting until report time to deliver good news.

5. Send home learning tools and books so that parents can use them at home.

6. Hold school tours so that parents are familiar with their children’s class and home rooms. This enables parents to hold more meaningful conversations at home about their school.

7. Send home conversations starters following an excursion or special event so that parents can join the learning conversations. These include questions for parents to ask children about the excursions; a short video of the event; and special news just for parents.

8. Publicise your school’s main learning goals in all your media and continually refer back to them when communicating with parents.

The most consistent predictors of parent engagement in their children’s learning are the quality of the specific programs and processes that link parents to student learning, and positive teacher attitudes to parent involvement. Engaging parents in children’s learning just doesn’t happen. It takes teacher energy, effort and also expertise for it to be successful.
  • building
  • communication
  • goals
  • involvement
  • learning
  • partnerships
  • relationships
  • strong
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