It is the start of the new school year and the schools who use Learning with Parents will be planning how to launch well with the pupils and parents at their schools. By working in partnership with parents, schools can build positive relationships with families, valuing the important role that they have in their children’s learning.
Schools who have been using the Learning with Parents programme for a few years have shared some insights and top tips on how to successfully build parental engagement with families at the beginning of the school year.
Building positive relationships
Julie Shingler, Causeway Green Primary School, told Learning with Parents “Lots of our parents have had a bad school experience themselves and can feel intimidated by school and teachers. Very few of our families were engaging in the worksheets we were previously sending home as they did not have the confidence to ask us how they could support their child with them. We have been using Learning with Parents since 2021 and this has made home-learning become much more meaningful.”
Many families have had a bad experience of schooling and feel disconnected from their child’s learning. Take time to get to know your families. If your school addresses parents using ‘Mum’ or ‘Dad’ , think about using their names instead and give them space to share their own ideas about their children’s education. They are experts in their children so involve them in the process of setting achievable goals.
At your first parent meetings of the year, discuss parents’ own aspirations for their child’s learning as well as the targets and goals you have for them. 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
Family engagement at home
Schools that have used our Learning with Parents programme have noticed a difference in how families are engaging with learning at home.
Chris Burrows at Phoenix Infant Academy explained that the families from his class could log into the platform easily with our ‘no password’ logins. He also felt that using the platform on a mobile device allowed families lacking in confidence in technology and English to access the platform well.
Features on the parent’s platform such as the audio clips in our reading log and the comments function give families an easy way to leave feedback about their child’s learning at home.
Enthusiasm of children
When you set your first topic. share this with pupils in your classes and talk to them about how you are looking forward to seeing all the things they are going to do with their parents at home.
Children feel excited to use the Learning with Parents platform and are motivated to speak about it at home with their families. By discussing the topics in class and celebrating achievements, teachers will promote an enthusiasm in children to learn at home with their families. This will then boost children’s engagement in reading and learning.
“We held an in-school parent event where we went through the process of signing up, shared an example video and had the parent letters available in different languages. Parents who had previously used the programme were able to advocate how easy it is to use and how much their children have enjoyed it. I was able to solve any problems there and then and having the face-to-face conversations made this event feel very personal.”
– Michala Warner, Edward Worlledge Ormiston Academy
At Learning with Parents, we always recommend that schools invite parents to an in-school launch when launching the programme to highlight to parents how important their role in their child’s learning is. Children could fill in our ‘postcard invite’ inviting their parents to the launch! Make the launch interactive and allow parents to try some of the activities together with their child.
This launch could also be an opportunity to let parents know that you want to work with them and involve them throughout the year in their child’s learning. Establish a way to communicate that works well for both you and families – you might want to ask families their preferred way to communicate with the school.
Use weekly newsletters or assemblies to celebrate family achievements and let your parents know that you value their input in supporting their child’s learning.
All parents want to support their child’s learning but some face so many barriers they can feel disempowered or lack the confidence in how to help. Building effective parental engagement can take time but successfully launching Learning with Parents and making a couple of small changes will be a great start to supporting the families in your school and increasing parents’ engagement in learning at home.