Parental engagement has never felt more important than at the start of this term. The last 18 months have allowed families to learn together in a way that was not possible before and from my discussions with many parents and carers over the last year, many want their involvement in their child’s learning to continue. It is clear that schools and the education sector have a real opportunity to make the most of this and nurture the new habits that were adopted by families during lockdown.
These easy to implement tips are for schools to use so they can start building that crucial partnership with parents from the beginning of term.
- Celebrate the home learning families have done With all the headlines around ‘catch up’ and ‘lost learning’ parents may be feeling concerned and overwhelmed about their child’s progress. Start the term by being clear about how they can help through small, everyday interactions and celebrate any home learning that has happened over the summer.
- Parent and teacher meetingsIn parent/teacher meetings, let parents know that you want to work with them in partnership and value their input. When talking to parents about their child’s targets and the year ahead ask them what their aspirations are for their child over the next year too. Think about how the meeting is set up. Does it reflect the partnership you want to achieve? For example, make sure parents are able to sit in adult chairs and not the children’s chairs
- Learn parents’ names Parent Ping reported that 4% of parents like being called Mum or Dad by their child’s teacher but a quarter of schools do. If you are called ‘Mrs/Ms/Mrs…’ by parents then make sure you learn parents’ surnames too.
- Share teachers’ stories Parents can feel intimidated by teachers. By sharing hobbies, interests and life before becoming a teacher will help make them feel approachable. You could do this in school newsletters and the school website.
- Opportunities for feedback Have a ‘suggestions box’ (either in the school office or virtually on the school website) where parents can suggest ideas around home learning. Think about the format of your school reports and allow parents to write down how they think their child is doing too so that the school report becomes a dialogue between teacher and parent. Allow families to write comments in their own language if needed.
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