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Parental engagement: A task for teachers?

Parents need to be kept in the loop about their children's progress, but how can teachers find the time to regularly update them?

Posted by Hannah Vickers | June 14, 2017 | Technology

By Iain Bell, managing director of Minted Box – creators of the digital classroom seating planner, MINTclass

It is common knowledge that parental engagement at school is important. After all, parents have an incredibly positive influence on their child’s attainment, whether that’s at home or in the classroom. Playing an active role in their child’s education can contribute to their overall achievement, behaviour and attitudes throughout the years of schooling, and also positively benefits teachers and schools too. Therefore, it’s vital to keep parents in the loop at all times.  

It often falls to teachers to keep parents updated on their children. Yet, with ever-growing workloads, how can they be expected to engage parents while also effectively assembling and updating extensive pupil records, including information on progress, attainment, behaviour and achievement, not to mention pupil engagement and potential? Are there ways of combining efforts and promoting parental engagement without drastically impacting teachers?

A joint effort

For most parents, one of the only times during the school year that they receive a full update on their child’s progress and behaviour is at parents’ evenings. Although essential, this often doesn’t give teachers sufficient time to provide an in-depth view of each child’s progress and potential. Quite simply, this is not enough; parents and guardians need access to regular updates on each pupil’s progress so that they can support and reinforce their child’s learning and behaviour at home too, and provide regular opportunities for engaging with education.  

So, for starters, you need to get them involved. Over the past 35 years, the time British parents spend doing homework or reading with their children has increased four times, which shows that there’s a real desire for parents to become more actively involved with their child’s education. Therefore, why not set homework that requires the participation of the parent? For example, you could ask parents to carry out a spelling test with their children or get them to take part in a science experiment; this will enable them to see if their child is enthused by the subject, or struggling with particular aspects of learning.

Uniting through tech

With most people owning a smartphone or having access to a computer or tablet, updating parents needn’t be a long-winded process or one that requires face-to-face contact every time. Social media is something that more and more schools are recognising the value of, as it’s an easy way of ensuring parents are up-to-date with the latest news and reassuring them that the school is actively promoting the learning and wellbeing of pupils. Parents are able to easily see posts and interact with them, creating a more inclusive whole-school environment.

It’s important for parents to receive news on their child’s attainment and behaviour, because this can then be positively reinforced with praise at home, which in turn will encourage the child to persevere

Making school to home communication interactive also enables parents to keep track of their child’s progress in real time. As with most other administrative tasks, long gone are the days of paper documents; everything is stored in the cloud and accessed digitally, in one secure place. Investing in a digital resource means that teachers are now able to very efficiently update pupil records on the school’s management information system (MIS), with staff being able to utilise edtech resources to then take this information and create reports for parents to access and interact with regularly. These reports act as a full profile on the pupils, and include their subject grades, attendance, behaviour and comments from teachers, thereby enabling parents to see whether their child is on track in specific subjects. Teachers can also easily email parents through the software when necessary, providing a direct and instant channel of communication.

It’s important for parents to receive news on their child’s attainment and behaviour, because this can then be positively reinforced with praise at home, which in turn will encourage the child to persevere.

Contemporary collaboration   

While it’s important for schools to arrange termly opportunities for parents to meet with teachers or see pupils’ work, it’s not always possible for this to happen as regularly as some parents may want. Therefore, having an online space in which data can be shared and conversations had, means this doesn’t diminish the relationships between parent, teacher and the school.

In the 21st Century, parental engagement needn’t be a task solely for teachers; it’s a streamlined process that can help inform their provision and further support their pupils’ learning

In the 21st Century, parental engagement needn’t be a task solely for teachers; it’s a streamlined process that can help inform their provision and further support their pupils’ learning. There’s no excess paper or added time pressures, instead teachers can utilise the power of today’s technology and easily and effectively communicate with parents to ensure they’re informed on their child’s educational development.

As with everything in life, collaboration helps us reach shared goals; so in the context of a child’s education, let’s work together and collaborate, in order to watch that child’s potential grow.  

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