The Importance of parental engagement

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The Importance of parental engagement

The Tasmanian Catholic Schools Parents Council presented a series of workshops throughout the state recently, aimed at improving student learning through increasing parental knowledge and engagement.

Dr Debbie Pushor, Professor of Curriculum Studies at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, conducted separate workshops for both parents and Catholic educators at Ulverstone, Launceston and Hobart about how parents can assist with their child’s education by engaging with their children’s teachers.

“The knowledge a parent has regarding how their child learns, which they have gained by observing and raising their children up to the point of bringing them to their first day at school is invaluable,” Dr Pushor said.

“We need parents to feel motivated to go to a teacher to say ‘This is the information you need about my son or daughter who’s going to be in your class this year.’

“We need teachers to go to parents and say ‘Help me understand your son; is there anything we need to know about your family for example, so I can better tune in when I am teaching him?’”

Dr Pushor is keen to see parents and teachers work side by side, and make decisions together about what will work best to assist the child in their learning.

“The curriculum doesn’t just have to belong to the teacher. Parents can lead some activities and share knowledge; it could be a group decision-making process, and together we’ll decide as a collective in a way that suits our particular group. That, to me, is parent engagement.”

Greg Boon, executive officer for the Tasmanian Catholic Schools Parents Council, said that Dr Pushor’s visit had started a conversation for teachers and parents around more parent engagement rather than simply parent involvement.

“What I took away from Debbie’s visit is that parent engagement is more than dropping your child at school or sport or attending concerts; it is about assisting the child in their learning, and sharing responsibility for this with their teachers,” Mr Boon said.

“For students to succeed in their learning, parents need to be actively involved in their children’s education, from prior to children going to school until the end of year 12.

“Modern technology can help to facilitate parent engagement in a high school environment because the parents can actively monitor how their children are progressing with assignments, exams and test results, and can communicate directly with teachers.”