MEDIA HUB

A Word from our Principal - Parental Engagement

Earlier this year I wrote about the importance of parental engagement in children’s learning. At the time of writing it, I had no idea the extent to which parental engagement would be realised in 2020. This term’s home schooling took parental involvement to whole new levels and I’m sure that everyone, schools and parents included, learned a lot more about how to support students with their learning outside of the physical classroom.



Last week, the QIS Parent Network also released an article for parents, “Adjusting to the next ‘new normal’: caring for your family’s emotional and mental health as restrictions ease”. This article acknowledges that 2020 has been a rollercoaster ride for families and provides some practical advice as families navigate the return to school. The article can be found at https://www.parentsnetwork.qld.edu.au/2020/05/20/adjusting-to-the-next-new-normal-caring-for-your-familys-emotional-and-mental-health-as-restrictions-ease/

As we return this week to face-to-face teaching and learning, it is worth reflecting on our experiences but also important to remember that returning to the classroom doesn’t diminish the importance of parental engagement in a child’s learning. Many studies have shown that teacher quality is the most significant in-school factor influencing student achievement, however, a significant at-home contributor is parental engagement. In a synthesis of factors influencing student achievement, Marzano (cited in Goodwin, 2017) concluded that fully 33 percent of the variance in student achievement could be predicted by factors related to students' home environment.

Whether it is supporting students to do their learning at home, supporting them with set homework or encouraging effective study habits, the following five strategies continue to be valuable:

  1. If possible, try to maintain the learning environment you established - A stimulating home learning environment which consists of a variety of educational materials and positive reinforcement of the value of education by parents is integral to intellectual and social development in children of all ages (Emerson et al, 2012). In addition to making learning enjoyable and rewarding, a quality home learning environment contributes to the standards that children set for themselves and their aspirations for education (Jeynes cited in Emerson et al, 2012).

  2. During learning@home, our girls followed their usual school routines. Now that they’re back at school, try to establish a regular routine for homework and study. This provides structure and helps with time management. A 2016 study out of University of Albany in NY found that individuals who grow up with predictable, daily routines are less likely to have time management or attention problems as adults.

  3. Keep communicating the high expectations you have for their learning. Regular communication of high academic aspirations has more of an impact than any other parental behaviour, including how strictly parents supervise their children's free time or monitor their homework. Parental expectations had nearly twice the effect on students' achievement than parenting style did.

  4. Provide positive reinforcement and encouragement as they learn. However, when giving praise, focus on effort and perseverance – Research shows that praising children for their hard work inspires them to take risks, learn from mistakes, and move on from setbacks. In contrast, praising their natural ability, makes them feel like they need to prove their natural talent, and any setback seems like a failure. Academic success is more likely if children are praised for persevering through challenges.

  5. Just as parents did when they were learning from home, remember to monitor their health and wellbeing and try to establish routines that prioritise these areas. Find opportunities for fresh air play and exercise, for reading and for other relaxation activities. This is particularly important over the first couple of weeks as they re-adjust to the school environment.

It is also important that the school and parents continue to work together to support the girls with their education and development. The literature shows that gains in learning are most prominent when parents and school staff work together to facilitate a supportive learning environment in both the home and the school.

Parental engagement in the classroom is of utmost value and importance. At Girls Grammar, we believe that the school, our families, and our whole community contribute in complementary ways to provide the care, support and structure necessary for our girls’ learning and development. By building consistent, positive relationships between staff and parents we can work together to reinforce the value of education, sacrifice and hard work. In this way, our students internalise high aspirations and we work in partnership to ensure successful outcomes for them.

As we get closer to the ‘new normal’, we encourage parents to contact us with any questions or to discuss any support we can provide to help with the transition.

Deanne Johnston

Principal

References

Emerson, L., Fear. J., Fox, S., and Sanders, E. (2012). Parental engagement in learning and schooling: Lessons from research. A report by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) for the Family-School and Community Partnerships Bureau: Canberra.

Goodwin, B. (2017) “Research Matters / The Power of Parental Expectations” Educational Leadership, September, Volume 75, Number 1, In Sync with Families Pages 80-81

University at Albany (2016) “Study: Daily Routines Impact Childhood Development” https://www.albany.edu/news/75004.php

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