The pandemic has been a worrying time for schools and families, and alarming headlines around loss of learning has heightened these anxieties. Whilst these concerns need to be addressed, we also need to take an asset approach; this is a time to reflect on what opportunities have arisen and what we want to take forward.
Through discussions I have had with parents and teachers it has become increasingly clear that remote learning has enabled parents and teachers to connect in ways they could not before. One parent told me she had never felt more engaged in her child’s education than in the first lockdown but had then felt cut off when school started in September.
So, how can schools continue to connect with parents effectively without adding to teacher workload?
Here are some easy to implement ideas which I have gathered from conversations with parents, teachers and colleagues.
Involve parents in the learning process
Several parents I have spoken to have said they now want a more interactive role in their child’s education but do not always understand the homework that is sent home. Take this time to reflect on the homework you are setting going forward. Is it helping the parents to engage in their child’s education? Or could it perhaps be causing stress between parent and child? Games and practical activities are great ways to help families interact and learn together.
Top tip: Provide a suggestions box for parents to write down what would help them or feedback on what challenges they are facing with homework.
When speaking to parents they have said they do not have a clear understanding of their child’s progress. School reports can be frustrating if they use terminology they do not understand such as ‘partitioning’ or ‘grapheme’. Think about how your school reports can support parents to engage in their child’s learning.
Top tip: When discussing children’s progress with parents think about the language you are using. Would it make sense to someone who does not work in education? Sharing progress should not just be a matter of the school giving information to the parent; it should open up a meaningful dialogue between teacher and parent.
Small interactions often
Parents have mentioned how much they have enjoyed the increased use of programmes such as Class Dojo. Small regular updates have helped them feel more connected to school. For example, one parent said receiving updates on why their child got chosen for star of the week helped them have a meaningful discussion with them at home.
Top tip: Post weekly (or even daily!) questions that parents can ask their children to help them have rich discussions at home.
Virtual or face-to-face parents meetings?
Parent Ping recently reported that 54% of parents thought parent meetings worked better online and would like this to continue. 55% of parents who are eligible for free school meals thought the same.
Top tip: Give parents a choice of virtual or face to face parent meetings. This would not only help you connect with more parents but also demonstrate that you want to meet their needs.
Remember…all parents can support their child’s learning if they are empowered to.
We would love to hear from you!
Get in contact if you would like to do a blog post and share what your school is doing to engage parents in their child’s education.
Find out more about our programmes and how we support schools.