What do you know about the concept of parent engagement in schools?

It’s a fascinating area of research which at its heart is about schools and families forming productive partnerships and respecting each other’s unique contributions. When it happens well the winners are our children.

Around 50 years of research has shown that when parents and families are engaged in what their children are learning, the effect on students’ achievement and wellbeing is overwhelmingly positive.

A new publication from the respected Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY), released today (January 29, 2020) has confirmed the importance of schools embracing parent engagement.

It also says a vital step is “the firm commitment from school leadership”.

The Parent Engagement Implementation Guide “aims to provide school communities with practical guidance on implementing successful parent and family engagement practices, focusing on the ‘how’ rather than the ‘why'”.

Detailed research

The ARACY guide is the culmination of a four-year project funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, and contains case studies, ideas and examples of parent engagement in action.

It confirms that when parents and families engage with their child’s learning “attendance increases, behaviour in school improves, homework return rates go up and overall, children’s achievement tends to improve”.

A tailored approach needed

In its concluding comments, the guide says the challenge for school communities is making parent and family engagement relevant to their school and community.

“Put simply, there is no set way for a school to adopt a culture of parent engagement, no one-size-fits-all approach,” it says.

“Added to that, the strategies adopted for supporting parents and families to engage in their child’s learning will look different depending on age and development stage of that child.

“In this guide we have aimed to provide not only an understanding of why engaging families in their children’s learning matters, but more than that, to provide school communities with a clear picture of the how.”

Structures, resources and supports needed for success

“We know that a vital and important step is the firm commitment from school leadership,” the report continues.

“At its heart, parent and family engagement in learning is about relationships; family engagement will always need to stem from a personalized, relationships-based approach, contextualized for each setting, that changes and develops as families move through school.

“For this to happen successfully, schools need to embed appropriate structures, and provide the resources and supports required by their staff…to sustain engagement practices.”

Download the report here or read it in full here