Making parents part of the learning culture

To be effective, teacher-parent conferences must be part of a moral purpose to actively engage parents in their children's learning.

Photo of Tim Ennion
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Talking to parents and making the effort to learn from industries beyond education are two basic ideas that I believe have made the biggest difference to parent engagement in the children's learning.

First and foremost - Make parents feel welcome in the school!  Does the school have a culture of making it easy for parents to play an active role? 

Take time to establish a parents' focus group; make the parents who give up their time to support the group feel valued; listen to what they tell you and act on what you hear.  Foster a genuine partnership; be open about the school, its successes and its shortcomings.

Support parents to feel confident to enter the educational arena.  Help them to develop productive, positive relationships with their children.  Skill them up as 'learning coaches'. 

Look outside for ideas and expertise.  I once worked with a group of fantastically talented coaches from the John Lewis Partnership to devise a coaching for learning programme for our parents.

School-home communication is so often parents' biggest bug bear.  Make the most of technology - our online parent portal conveys key information, from school reports to letters home.  Our portal was designed and tested by parents - so they use it.

Create more useable chunks of time for parents to talk to teachers.  We have moved from the traditional parents' evenings to review days.  We use these days as an opportunity for students to present their learning to parents. 

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Photo of Donna

Hi Tim, Thanks so much for posting your observations. We definitely need to find more ways to engage parents in learning. If you have time, it would be great to interview a student and/or parent to get their perspectives. Upload an image so that the communicate can see a visual representation of your post.