The Sunday News
LAST week, we explored the crucial role that parents play in supporting their children’s education. However, parental involvement is just one aspect of the equation. Educational institutions also have a significant responsibility to foster an environment that encourages family participation in school activities.
As research increasingly demonstrates, family engagement has a powerful impact on a child’s academic performance, attendance, and behaviour. Unfortunately, many schools continue to face significant challenges in effectively engaging families in their children’s education. In this article, we will delve into the reasons why schools should prioritise family engagement and outline practical ways in which they can achieve this essential goal.
First and foremost, schools should encourage family engagement because it has a positive impact on learner achievement. When parents are actively involved in their children’s education, learners are more likely to succeed academically as well as in extracurricular activities. Every child wants to make their parents proud, and a parent who shows interest in their child’s education is bound to encourage positivity and motivation that can help the student excel. Furthermore, as stated last week, family involvement also motivates teachers, contributing to an increase in the student’s academic success. Imagine if all parents were interested in their children’s school work!
Family-school engagement helps facilitate better communication between schools and families. This can help ensure that families are informed about school activities and student progress, while schools can understand the needs and concerns of families. This, in turn, could lead to increased support.
When families are engaged in their child’s education, they can provide additional support, such as helping with homework, providing a supportive home environment, and encouraging their child’s academic and extracurricular interests. This communication can also help parents understand that Advanced Level studies are not for every learner and that some degree programmes are useless! (We will explore these thoughts in the coming weeks, stay tuned).
Schools, therefore, have a challenge to plant and nurture this relationship. One way schools can encourage family engagement is by fostering a culture of collaboration between parents and teachers. When parents and teachers work together, they can create a support system that benefits the student.
For example, teachers can share information about the child’s academic and extracurricular progress, while parents can provide insights into the child’s personality, interests, and home life. This collaboration can lead to a more holistic understanding of the child, which can inform teaching strategies and support the child’s overall development. Technology has brought easier means of communication that can be leveraged to this end. Schools can use technology to keep parents informed about their child’s academic progress, such as sending regular messages, emails, or posting updates on an online platform.
In addition, schools can hold regular formal and informal parent-teacher meetings to discuss the child’s academic progress and set goals for the future. Schools can also provide opportunities for parents to volunteer in the classroom or participate in school events. Understanding that parents are themselves resource persons that can be useful in teaching and learning various academic and non-academic matters is very key.
On the other hand, schools can also provide resources and workshops for parents to learn more about how to support their child’s learning at home. Ultimately, when schools prioritise family-school engagement (of course with parental reciprocity), they create a collaborative and supportive learning environment that benefits both the students and the entire school community.
For those of us who grew up when every child was everyone’s child, we know the importance of a collective effort in shaping a child’s behaviour and upbringing. In today’s increasingly individualistic world, family-school engagement is becoming more important therefore, and importantly so, family-school engagement can help improve student behaviour.
When parents are actively involved in their child’s education, they can help reinforce and monitor positive behaviour and provide support for learners who are struggling. To improve learner behaviour, schools can work with parents to develop behaviour plans that are consistent across home and school settings. Schools can also provide parents with resources to help reinforce positive behaviour at home, such as reward systems or behaviour charts.
Additionally, schools can work with community groups and stakeholders to provide training for parents on positive parenting techniques that can improve their child’s behaviour.
In conclusion, schools should encourage family engagement because it leads to better educational performance, improved attendance, and positive behaviour. To achieve this goal, schools can foster a culture of collaboration between parents and teachers, provide opportunities for parents to volunteer, use technology to keep parents informed, work with parents to identify barriers to attendance, and develop behaviour plans that are consistent across home and school settings.
When parents and schools work together, they can create a supportive environment that benefits the learner.
n Jobert Ngwenya is an award-winning educator, Fulbright TEA Fellow, National Geographic Education Grantee, author, and academic audio content creator. He holds a Master of Arts in Development Studies (MSU) Bachelor of Arts (UZ) and Post Graduate Diploma in Education (ZOU). He can be contacted by email on [email protected]