Integrating Parents in their Children’s Education

The role of parents once their children begin school sees a huge transition.
Rachel Stewart
Jul 14, 2023
Parents like children may be going through huge transition when their child starts school.

The time has come to shift perceptions about parents and their role in education

When I first began the journey through school with my eldest daughter, I was fairly confident that I had prepared her well for what lay ahead. Little did I know at the time that my roles and responsibilities as a parent would change dramatically. I would need to adjust and be flexible throughout the journey with my eldest and each of my children after her.

The role of parents once their children begin school is a huge transition and identity shift for many who may be unfamiliar with contemporary learning and how they can support their children through the many changes they will navigate through their formal education.

Parents are often left struggling to know how to stay connected with their children, how to support their learning and how they can be sure their child will do well at school. It is a familiar story for many parents who find themselves in this new environment - not as a student but now in the role and identity of a parent or carer of a student.

In my experience working with school leaders and teachers to support parents and teachers as partners in education, I discovered that parents are like the silent partners in their children’s formal learning. Often kept a safe distance away from school, provided with limited awareness of their child’s learning progress and minimal information about how to support them at home to more easily achieve their learning goals at school.

This can lead to many frustrated parents who are seeking to be an integral part of their child’s learning journey. And so they should be, as national and international research has demonstrated over five decades, parents have many extremely important roles in supporting and engaging in their children’s learning.

However, what is not widely known or shared with parents is exactly what their role entails once their children are learning at school. There are many different roles and responsibilities parents have including;

  • encouraging and nurturing relationships between parents and teachers, parent and child, teachers and child, and child and peers
  • developing confidence as a parent who is able to support their child at home by actively participating in their child’s learning
  • understanding that learning takes place anytime, anywhere and that they have a role to facilitate learning experiences for their children
  • being present and supporting their child’s wellbeing by checking in and sharing in conversations to guide them through life experiences and social issues
  • connecting with their child’s learning and school community through volunteering, leading by example and networking
  • understanding their child’s learning strengths, gaps, goals and how to support these alongside teachers and the child
  • advocating for the child should any concerns arise
  • setting the scene for learning at home by guiding children’s cognitive and non-cognitive skills through everyday activities, games, providing experiences and opportunities for development of interpersonal skills and inter relational skills that are critical for successful learning at school
  • co-learning and collaborating alongside teachers and their children
  • supporting the teacher to understand their child, their interests and strengths as well as their challenges by sharing parent knowledge of the child.

Most importantly, school leaders and educators need to be inclusive of parents as their integral partners in learning by sharing this information and providing the necessary process conditions that enable parents to develop their capacity for engaging in learning at home.

When school principals do this well, they see a huge shift in the culture of their learning community as well as in their students. When parents are included on the journey with their children, there are multiple benefits for everyone.

Students are more likely to want to attend school as they develop confidence and a positive attitude towards learning. They find learning easier because they are equipped with cognitive abilities that are critical for learning and managing at school or in different learning environments. When parents and family are included and feel valued, students have an increased sense of belonging as they feel supported by all the adults who surround them. When parents and teachers work together they provide positive relationship modelling and opportunities for every child to thrive in their learning.

There is also less conflict and putting out fires for school leaders by taking a proactive rather than reactive approach to build positive relationships with parents.

Learn more about the many parent roles and benefits for your students when parents are enabled to support learning at home in Rachel’s new book ‘Creating Connections - Inspire your child to thrive in their learning’ Available at Amba Press

Image by Vidal Balielo Jr.