Principal’s News

Building a strong culture of parent engagement

As Term One draws to a close, parents in the Junior School have had the opportunity to meet with classroom teachers to discuss student progress thus far and set goals for the rest of the semester and the year. Parent-teacher communication plays a big role in helping your child to have a successful academic career. Since parents and teachers know different aspects of a child’s personality, they must work together to solve problems and celebrate gains.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

It’s something parents hear all the time, but it bears repeating. One of the keys to parents and teachers working together is to have good communication. Parents are vital partners in education. They influence their children’s attitudes about learning, and support learning at home. They are a vital link between home and school. And when they become involved in the life of the school, they make our schools better places to learn, grow and thrive. Educators and parents generally agree that positive, supportive and open relationships between home and school, parent and teacher are desirable. Additionally, research has shown that parent engagement and successful parent-teacher partnerships result in improved educational outcomes for students. Teachers and parents provide a vital support system to help students flourish. Both groups are important. When parents and teachers communicate and work together effectively, it can significantly impact each student’s long-term success.

But we cannot confuse the difference between parent involvement in schools and parent engagement. One dictionary definition of involve is “to enfold or envelope,” whereas one of the meanings of engage is “to come together and interlock.” Thus, involvement implies doing to; in contrast, engagement implies doing with.

Parent involvement in schools includes attending events, volunteering in class or other activities, and serving on school councils and parent committees. It’s not that family involvement is bad. Almost all the research says that any kind of increased parent interest and support of students can help. But almost all the research also says that family engagement can produce even better results—for students, for families, for schools, and for their communities (Ferlazzo & Hammond, 2009) As a school we are striving for parent engagement-listening to what parents think, dream, and worry about.

The ACT Government defines parent engagement in two parts—family-led learning and family‑school partnerships:

  • Family-led learning focused on high aspirations for children, shared reading, a positive environment for homework, parent-child conversation, a cognitively stimulating home environment and support for social and emotional wellbeing; and
  • family-school partnerships that encourage positive parent-teacher relationships, communication about children’s progress, and engagement in the school community, while equipping parents to effectively support and encourage their children’s learning and wellbeing (ACT Government, 2014).

To support parents to effectively support and encourage children’s learning we facilitate a number of parent workshops throughout the school year. Workshops unpacking the Sounds to Letters Spelling Program, supporting students with problem solving and supporting students’ journey in the Primary Years Programme (PYP) are just a few of our offerings and are all designed to equip parents with background information, new knowledge and a toolbox of strategies to support students with learning at home. These are regularly held throughout the year, advertised via email and on Facebook. I encourage you to engage with your school and join  us in building partnerships to connect learning at home and school in 2019.