Parent Participation in Child Education

By Aristotle

Emma, an elementary school teacher with a private school in Manchester, MA, says – “Darting between home and school, the curriculum, the monthly, weekly, and daily lesson plans, AND staff meetings, we forget as teachers that we are in one of the most human-centered professions. We forget that our primary job is to make school learning an engagement between teachers, parents, school administration, and the district. She adds- “Classrooms that are seeing active participation of children during the pandemic are the ones where schools have built strong relationships with teachers and parents. The others who could not for some reason or the other, are the ones struggling with remote learning and student engagement.”

Everyone has a pandemic story to tell

Everyone, as an administrator, an educator, an institution, student, or online learning platforms have a pandemic story to tell. We all have our set of experiences since the sudden shift to remote learning in the early months of 2020. Chronicle Cloud became a star overnight when we saw a surge in the app download by teachers! Teachers were scrambling to find one online platform that could help them with note-taking, roster, assessment, grades, and that could store all data for future reference. Despite the severely compressed timeframes, Chronicle Cloud did spectacularly well! The teachers who picked up Chronicle Cloud have their archive of stories to tell! 

Schools with aggressive administration are making radical organizational changes to become more human. Parents and teachers have been giving their best during the pandemic and under unexpected circumstances. 50% of the students are engaged virtually for school assignments. If a measure of a society is how well you take care of its young, then the pandemic has been an eye-opener. The students performed well even during the pandemic, where parent-teacher communication was the norm.

We have been sweating around short-term fixes pretending that if we finish the curriculum, exert the right amount of pressure on teachers and students to achieve the yearly targets, then our job is done, and they will somehow achieve. But we should have realized this long ago – that we cannot rove around education, learning, and knowledge. Learning cannot happen by itself, and that human relationships are crucial for the learning process. In this, parent-teacher communication is the catalyst.

At one point in time, the school and the homes were defined by structural boundaries and separate spaces in four walls. But now, no more. The boundaries between the school and the home have melted and blended with each other.

The one thing the pandemic has done is that it has helped us to think about our students, their families, and the microsystems connecting the student and the school.

Learning a social process

Running between multiple identities between school and home, we often forget that education and learning are a part of the social process. We often isolate learning and confine it to the four walls of a classroom, curriculum, assessments, and grades. Education and learning is a continuing process that goes on throughout the lifespan. Hence, students should get better choices between flexible programs and flexible schedules. As educators, we must ensure that the power of digital technology – online note-taking, assessing, and grading is used to its full potential. The focus should be on collaborations between teachers and parents, school and home, and community and districts. Technology-enabled classrooms are bridging this gap to a large extent. The Chronicle Cloud teacher and parent app is a perfect example of technology in the classroom. Teachers share notes and assignments with parents in remote and in-the-classroom teaching.

Parents engagement and involvement in child education

Parent involvement means a connection between the child’s two primary ecosystems- the home and the school. Collaboration with parents helps identify a child’s needs and how parents can contribute to their child’s education. There is a direct connection between parents-teacher engagement in a child’s education and academic performance. 

 To this end, we suggest that teachers invite parents to regular school meetings and events, and parents also voluntarily commit to keeping the school activities as the top priority. Parental involvement is important for the school, the teachers, and above all, the students.

Many parents believe that the communication between them and teachers is ineffective, and many a time there is a paucity of time hence they prefer online communication (via texts, emails, or social networks, instead of attending briefings or conferences). Technology-enabled classrooms make a faster connection with parents. In my opinion, we should use technology to its full potential. What is important is parents’ involvement in their child’s learning process and not the medium.

What is the most effective way to gauge the academic achievement of a child? 

It is not the socio-economic status, not how prestigious the school is. The best predictor of a student’s success is the extent to which families encourage learning and involve themselves in their child’s education. According to education experts, parent engagement in school is when parents and teachers share the responsibility to help the child learn and meet educational goals. 

It becomes challenging for teachers when the students do not receive any support at home. After the ‘No Child Left Behind (NCLB)’ the focus has shifted from involvement of parents to parent engagement. In various studies-parent engagement was found to be directly linked with the student’s achievement. It raised the performance of the child and there was a phenomenal drop in student absenteeism. 

Parent participation begins with meetings and events that subsequently lead to partnering with teachers in setting goals and finding different ways to strengthen the engagement and relationship between teachers, students, and parents. It could be via frequent meetings or formal events.

Within the elementary school framework, school-based involvement is likely to include visits to the classroom and interactions with teachers. The home-based involvement includes communication between parents, teachers, and children about school, providing assistance with homework and project tasks to foster academic success, linking schoolwork to current events, encouraging occupational aspiration, discussing learning strategies, and planning for the future.

At the K-12 level, communication and PR professionals should make sure that an important goal of their work is to increase parental knowledge about the school and district programs and school achievement. A robust branding activity using school websites, social media, photos, videos, and local press stories also acts as indirect communication tools with parents.

Blended learning

The use of digital platforms in their personal life means that parents are interested in using similar tools to support child education at home and to be fully informed about school and classroom events. Technology-enabled classrooms are commonplace these days. Innovative ways to engage parents, and the child with digital communication can enhance the teaching and learning process. With close to 50% of schools already including some form of blended learning, it is not surprising that the use of technology is only increasing in the classroom-to-home environment. 

Technology in the classrooms is not only to enhance course content but adding quality to parent-teacher engagement. Blended learning means more engaged parents and also ensuring commitment from the student, the teacher, and parents. 

Almost 50% of teachers say innovative engagement tools supported by digital technology enhance learning 10x times. It also improves school-to-home communication resulting in more informed parents and more involved students in a school’s daily learning pattern. 

In a quest to meet the individualized learning needs of every student, many schools are opting for a myriad new learning model in the classroom. According to iNACOL, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, the most popular models adopted today include blended learning environments, flipped learning approaches, and fully online/virtual classes. Hence, schools must communicate the vital role technology plays in the classrooms. School administration should motivate teachers to explore innovative ways to use digital technology because parents are always keen to know about the new ways their child’s school is adopting to make learning fun and engaging for their child. 

Most parents want to be involved in their child’s learning, but the quality and sustainability depend upon the efficiency and efficacy of the communication between the classroom and home.

Here is what the parents wanted when asked what types of information they wished their child’s school should provide to bridge the learning gap between school and home. They wanted:

  • Apps that supported note-taking, daily homework, informing them about the schedule of assessments, and progress of their child
  • Recommendations about apps they could use to support learning 
  • Recommendations of apps that could provide seamless communication between teachers and parents.
  • Types of technology their child was engaging in at school
  • Types of technology they should have to support their child’s learning experience at home
  • Tracking and monitoring data concerning attendance, grades, and assessments

As regards communication, parents wanted the communication to be:

  • Personalized and individualized 
  • Timely and efficient from school and district leaders
  • Over emails and via mobile-phones 
  • High-Impact, and a return on information (ROI).

For many parents maintaining communication with multiple teachers becomes challenging. Hence parents feel that using digital tools, and online learning platforms can alleviate some of these challenges and make it easier for them to keep themselves updated with school information. At the same time, they want insights, progress, and learning capabilities of the child via these apps. 

Parents who are engaged tend to have a more positive and empathetic attitude towards teachers, which results in better child behavior with fewer disciplinary actions, and stable academic progress. 

Reflecting on those months, both as a parent and a Chronicle Cloud employee, I was thankful that such a communication channel existed that proved to be a binding thread between the school and home. Without the ability to reach out to parents and caregivers, how else could the school have shared necessary information, academic updates, and motivate students at the same time, to give importance to learning? We have the data that shows our apps were used 10x more since March 2020, and the usage has stayed high over since.

CHRONICLE CLOUD SUPPORT

Teachers used Chronicle Cloud as the pandemic continued to wreak havoc. It assisted them in sharing text and multimedia notes, from Algebra to English grammar, and supported learning assessment, and evaluation. Hence, it became very convenient for teachers and parents to use it as a tool to solicit information from the teachers. The data of every student is stored on the cloud that can be accessed anytime anywhere. While other enterprises were grappling with unexpected circumstances created by the pandemic; Chronicle Cloud was being abundantly used for its note-taking, and sharing; grading, assessment capabilities, and teachers admitted that Chronicle Cloud was the only app that was exclusively designed for the educators. 

QUICK TIPS FOR TEACHERS:

It should not come as a surprise that parents are online, and mothers spend 3.5x more time online shopping than non-mothers. If you are not meeting parents where they are spending more time, then you are missing out on one of the greatest opportunities to engage them in their child’s education. You can do a few things to engage parents, for instance:

  • Encourage them to switch over to Chronicle Cloud for class assignments, homework, and notes
  • Replacing paper correspondence with emails
  • Moving the payment and registration online
  • Engage with them more on social media
  • Inform them about the latest happenings through the school website, and linking all possible social media channels for integrated communication.

Effective communication, especially in the K-12 years of student life, becomes the backbone of life-long learning and builds parental trust in the education system.

The next decade will be driven by the attributes of Generation Z, who are going to be technologically savvy, very well connected, social media-dependent, multitasking between work and home, and we as service providers will have to be one step ahead of them to meet their technological needs and demands.