Family engagement in children's education is one of the main predictors of a child's success in school and in life. Global Family Research Project, Carnegie New York, October 2018
It's no longer a secret that students with engaged families
: get better grades and scores on assessments; enroll in higher-level programs of study; fit more easily into groups and attend school with more enthusiasm; have stronger social skills and behaviors; and are more grounded in their own learning.
6 pillars of effective family engagement in children's education
As far back as 2009, Dr. Joyce Epstein's talks about there being 6 major pillars
that underpin family engagement in children's education.
The first way parents can support their children's education is by providing a healthy family environment. As an educator, when appropriate, you can help parents by offering parenting workshops, helping families find government assistance programs and support programs neededm and encouraging them to model pro-education behavior, such as reading to their children and supporting them in completing homework.
Keeping parents informed and facilitating their openness to communicate and ask questions is vital to their active engagement. It would be a good idea to organise parent-teacher meetings, to send home pupils' work with explanations of their grades, to send regular messages describing the work you are doing in class. Families need to see openness and availability from teachers and school managers.
One of the direct ways parents can get involved in their children's education is to volunteer in the classroom and/or school. You could invite parents to help out in the classroom and make sure they are aware of volunteer opportunities within the school, such as helping with office work, being part of organising teams for various school events etc.
Learning outside the classroom
Parents and other family members can be excellent educational resources for students. To help parents ensure learning at home, it would be good to keep them informed of the homework and projects that children have to complete. You can also provide them with resources designed to help them understand the material you are teaching. In addition, creating voluntary reading lists and other activities together can help parents ensure that their young ones have ways to learn even outside of school.
Schools work as a partnership between parents and teachers. It would be great to encourage parents to join open meetings and participate in local advocacy and support groups focused on education. It would also be effective to make sure parents are aware of local school board elections.
Working with the community
Parents who are interested in community activities will usually also get involved in activities in the school context. To help them connect, you can provide information about events at local museums and parks; develop community service projects that bring parents, teachers, and administrators together; and invite community leaders to speak in the classroom and at parent events.
In an increasingly digitised and connected world, an education management platform where all the key players in a child's school life can participate is key to fast and effective communication.
offers this opportunity, along with other essential functions.
What can parents do?
Support your child in doing homework or different projects.
If you don't have enough experience, and the homework is challenging, look for answers and solutions together. This will motivate your child to treat tasks with more interest and seriousness.
Be present at your child's school activities
, be it concerts, sporting events or festivals. Even if parents' attendance at these events does not seem to be closely linked to school performance, it shows children that their parents are interested in their activities and passions.
What can teachers do?
Joyce Epstein, an expert in parent involvement, suggested a number of techniques that can facilitate a valuable partnership between school and family.
- Encourage parents to talk to their children about what happened at school that day. You can even pass on some thought-provoking ideas.
- Give an assignment that asks children to ask questions of family members. For example, you can use the family tree or simple homework ideas that can draw on the experiences of siblings, parents or even grandparents.
- You can invite parents to come and observe some of the class activities and then discuss what happened.
- Some parents may not be experienced in managing educational activities at home, so it's a good opportunity to discuss the following topics with them: how to create a supportive learning environment at home, ways to monitor school progress, how to encourage your child to develop healthy habits at home.
- Promote open communication with each family. Communication between teachers and parents can help establish trust and build relationships. Start by holding parent-teacher conferences at the beginning of the school year. Parents and teachers can share a little about themselves and their children, and this will set the tone for open communication throughout the year. Open communication will encourage parents to share their strengths and weaknesses, and not least, they will inform the teacher about certain events happening in the family that might affect the child's behaviour in class.
- Recognise different parenting styles and family boundaries. Educators often perceive the family that comes to meetings and responds with involvement, active participation, helps with learning or discipline problems, provides materials for a project, as more caring or "good family." Families who respond politely to requests, but leave decisions and school work to the child and teacher, are seen as less caring and uninvolved. These are just stereotypes. Build relationships with parents based on family strengths and avoid labeling and allowing personal biases to influence your interactions with families.
- Avoid stereotypes. Just because a student is of a certain culture or religion does not mean that his or her family should be placed in a certain category, a certain socioeconomic status (Kagan & Garcia 1991). It is essential that teachers become familiar with the cultural background of each individual student.
- Balance school activities with other activities that incorporate and encourage both individual and group learning. Children need opportunities to experience who they are as individuals and as part of a group.
- Respect families' need for control. When introducing new ideas, materials or experiences for children, involve families. Recognise also that some family members may not have had positive experiences with education while growing up. Although they may show anger, hostility or mistrust, the source may be in past events. It will take time and perseverance to build a relationship with these families. Teachers often demonstrate that families can rely on them and trust them to help them educate their children.
As specialists in the field point out, attitudinal measures of family engagement in children's education can include: supporting teachers in various activities at school, calibrating the expectations of all involved regarding children's academic achievement (Fehrmann, Keith and Reimers, 1987; Schaefer, 1991).
A model teacher knows parents' emotions and fears, understands their attitudes and traumas, and reassures them about their child's education. He/she is patient, open to outside opinions, takes into account feedback and looks at challenges in the relationship in a balanced way, always explaining the reasons for his/her decisions.
Families and parent groups should also promote the school to children as a beneficial place, with teachers who are there only to support and pass on new knowledge to the pupil, in helping them to develop and grow nicely in a united collective.
It is obvious that the methods of engaging families in children's education, school activities and events depend on the culture of the organisation, the culture of the locality where people are part of. Managers and teachers could put this issue on the priority list each year, identifying the best strategies for their own community. Children's performance is also based on this school-family partnership, the pillar of their motivation to learn.
How does Kinderpedia support family engagement in a child's education?
Technology is there to support learning. On the one hand by facilitating access to quality education with rich and relevant content and prompt and varied interactions between pupils and teachers, and on the other hand by facilitating communication between school, nursery and family.
parents find out in real time how their little ones' day at school or nursery went: from attendance, mood, participation, to how much they ate and slept, in the case of younger children. When they are aware of their children's projects and progress at school, parents can continue the educational process at home and support their children where they need it.
Kinderpedia creates the environment for a partnership between school and family and puts the pupil-teacher-parent collaboration right at the heart of learning.