Earlier this year, Deanne wrote about the research around parental engagement in learning. Research suggests that how parents support children’s learning at home has a significant impact on academic outcomes (Desforges and Abouchaar 2003). If done well, parent engagement could add the equivalent of 2 or 3 extra years schooling for a child (Hattie, 2008).
Parental engagement is most effective when it is focused on developing positive attitudes towards learning and education for children, building their motivation and confidence as learners and fostering their enjoyment of learning. Parental engagement includes the following core behaviours and beliefs:
parents’ efforts to increase a child’s enjoyment of, and belief in, the importance of learning;
parents’ belief in their ability to help their children learn; and
parents focusing on their children’s emotional wellbeing, as well as their learning, during the school years.
There are many potential benefits from parental engagement in learning. For students, it can foster greater enjoyment of and engagement in learning. This can lead to higher levels of motivation and consequently improved academic outcomes. Other benefits include the development of effective partnerships, where families and schools work together to address issues that may be impacting on the student’s well-being and achievement (ACT Government).
Research also suggests that parents do not need to invest a significant amount of time or attain specific knowledge to support their children’s learning. Rather, improved educational outcomes can result from a genuine interest and active engagement from parents (Government of South Australia). Effective ways to do this include:
having conversations about what your daughters are learning at school, what they enjoy learning or what they find difficult. It can also mean linking what they’re learning to current events and issues.
encouraging reading which can support language development, sentence construction, fluency and creativity. Reading can also be beneficial to memory, relaxation and well-being.
supporting your daughters to develop positive relationships with their teachers and encouraging them to talk to their teachers about areas they’re not understanding, how they’re progressing or additional support they would like.
creating an effective homework environment, including a dedicated space and time for homework. Younger girls may also benefit from assistance developing a study planner, help when revising or guidance with proofreading.
fostering self-belief and educational aspirations.
encouraging effort, persistence and challenge and reminding your daughters that failure and mistakes are necessary for growth and learning.
encouraging engagement in extension opportunities and activities, particularly those that will aid decision-making and problem-solving skills.
discussing post-schooling options and plans for the future.
monitoring the use of devices and ensuring they’re used in a balanced way to support health and well-being. This includes ensuring students do not have access to them when they should be sleeping.
Parents play a critical role in providing learning opportunities at home and in linking what students learn at school with what happens elsewhere. By discussing learning and encouraging positive attitudes to school, parents play a vital role in learning and education.
Dr John Fry
Deputy Principal - Studies
ACT Government (2014) Progressing Parental Engagement https://www.education.act.gov.au/teaching_and_learning/parental-engagement/progressing-parental-engagement
Australian Government Department of Education and Training (2018) Parent Engagement in Learning, https://www.education.act.gov.au/teaching_and_learning/parental-engagement/progressing-parental-engagement
Desforges, C., and A. Abouchaar. 2003. The Impact of Parental Involvement, Parental Support and Family Education on Pupil Achievement and Adjustment: A Literature Review. London: Department for Education and Skills.
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.
Government of South Australia (2014) Towards Best Practice in Parent Involvement in Education: A literature review, Office of Non-Government Schools and Services, University of South Australia
Hattie, J. (2012). Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. Taylor & Francis.
Simons, Robert (2013), Parental engagement in learning, Research Developments, ACER.