Increasing parental engagement can bring a wide range of benefits to any nursery or school. Studies have shown that it can improve the home learning environment, help with behaviour management and develop a real partnership between school and stakeholder. With this in mind, here are some straightforward steps that a school can take to attempt to ensure that parents don’t disengage from their child’s education.
Create learning for everyone
Offering workshops and courses based around subjects that your parents may find useful such as key developmental issues, behaviour, literacy or innovative play ideas can go a long way to increasing parental engagement.
These workshops are added value, and for a small investment in time and effort, a primary school can show that it wants to reach out to parents, involve them with some of the issues that they might be facing at home and go beyond the usual parents evening system or a quick chat whilst filling in an incident report at the end of the day.
Workshops and courses don’t have to be massively detailed, but if they include practical advice, a warm and welcoming atmosphere and something for parents to take home and consider, they can be a great way to build bridges. For maximum effect, make sure that these workshops occur at times where the most parents are available and if possible, try to change up the location – they don’t necessarily have to be held at school – to ensure as many people have the chance to access them as possible.
Make positive moments of contact
It’s often the case that negative contact can lead to parental disengagement. If the only time a parent hears from their children’s school is when something is going wrong, it’s understandable that the parent may withdraw.
To combat this, going out of your way to make sure that there are moments during the day where there is positive contact from school to parent is a simple and effective way to promote parental engagement. Showing a parent that it’s not just the negative things that get noticed and communicating with them some of the successes their child has experienced is a great way to bring them back into the partnership.
These can be planned into the daily routine (drop-off and pick-up points are obvious times) and support staff can also be utilised to make sure that there is always a point where the good things that are going on in your school are conveyed and a parent never feels as though communication with the school is undesirable. This is a simple, cheap and effective technique that can be broadened and embedded into a school’s ethos.
Use mobile apps
With the development of digital technology, making sure there is an open channel of communication and therefore enabling greater parental engagement has never been easier. A bespoke mobile app that allows a parent to easily access things such as school calendars, upcoming events like trips, and gives them a window into what is going on in a nursery goes a long way to closing the distance they may feel. Other barriers to communication such as time or geography are also overcome as parents can access this information wherever they are and at a time that is suitable for them.
Using a smart school website or mobile technology as a way to increase parental engagement means making use of tools that a vast majority of parents already own and are comfortable with. More details of Webanywhere’s own Mobile Jotter can be found here where you can explore some of its features.
These suggestions are simply the tip of the iceberg. They can act as a jumping-off point for a more in-depth consideration as to how a school can consider the best way to ensure that parental engagement is at the forefront of their practice. With these suggestions, a primary school can start to think about the best way to increase parental engagement, leading to stronger ties and better outcomes for all involved.