How involved should you be in your child's education? When should you step up and when should you step back? Is it better to be involved in your child’s schooling at school, or at home? Knowing how involved to be in your child’s school can be difficult to determine – you want your child to feel supported, but at the same time you want them to develop independence. So how do you find a balance?
Our guide will provide you with information and tips on when and how to be involved in your child’s education.
Firstly let’s make an important distinction between being involved in your child’s school, and being involved in your child’s schooling. The first can be classified as ‘parental involvement’ and includes such things as helping out at school working bees, manning cake stands, and attending committee meetings. The second is where you are involved in your child’s schooling or education, that is, you are helping them to learn – this is known as ‘parental engagement.’
Both forms of involvement are beneficial in different ways.
Parental involvement helps parents to establish bonds with other parents and creates a network from which friendships are established and support can be sought. It demonstrates to your child that you value his school and that it is important enough for you to dedicate time to. However, helping out with school functions and activities won’t necessarily improve your child’s learning or academic outcomes.
If you’re hoping to improve your child's learning, then parental engagement is the best approach. This can be as simple as reading to your child, helping your child with their homework, or making everyday activities learning opportunities. While quite easy to do with younger children, for older children parental engagement may seem more difficult, but it needn’t be. Have conversations with your child and talk with them about real world issues that relate to areas of their study.
By being engaged in your child’s education you increase responsiveness to your child’s social, emotional and intellectual developmental needs. You’ll be helping your child emotionally by showing you’re interested in their learning. As a parent, it can make you more confident in your parenting decision-making and it can foster affection and positive reinforcement.
Parental engagement has been shown to improve learning and academic performance, increase self-esteem, reduce absenteeism and help children to be better adjusted socially. It is a greater predictor of achievement than socio-economic status, income or ethnic background.
Parental engagement however, does not mean taking the reins of your child’s education. The danger for some parents in wanting their child to do well, is that they provide answers, complete projects and influence their children down a certain path in order to succeed. This approach does nothing to teach children how to learn, problem solve, or take risks, and won’t help them later down the track when exam time arrives. Resist the urge to take over so that your child can learn throughout the process – should they fail, see it as a positive opportunity for learning and growth.
By all means volunteer for canteen duty and become an active member of the P&C, but more importantly get involved in your child’s learning, take the time to find out what they are doing and discussing in class, and extend the learning at home in a casual way.
Parents play a vital role in our school community. There are many resources available to help parents become more active in their children’s education. Learning Potential is an Australian Government app that can help parents to be more involved in their child's learning, from the highchair to high school.
For over a century Trinity Grammar School has educated boys in mind, body and spirit – and we recognise that this is can only be achieved through teachers, students and parents working in unison. To learn more about the Trinity difference and to keep up-to-date with the latest education trends and issues, sign up to our newsletter.