Parental engagement is crucial for pupil progress: as the research shows, children of parents who take an active interest in their education make greater progress than those with parents who don’t.
Here are 9 great ways to get parents engaged with their child’s learning, perfect for KS2, that you can do today.
Finding it difficult to engage parents and carers in their child’s learning? You’re not alone. Here are 9 ideas to answer findings from research that parental involvement in their children’s education is positively related to achievement: children of parents who take an active interest in their education make greater progress than those who don’t.
A key factor in engaging parents is having open and effective channels of communication between the child’s school and home. However, according to a recent survey of 850 parents, carried out by Achievement for All 3As with Ipsos Mori [in 2014], 5 out of 10 parents stated that their school only called them when their child had done something wrong. Meanwhile, 3 out of 5 parents said that they would do more to support their youngster if they had more time or guidance on practical ways to help their child’s learning.
This is the time of year to consider new ways to share success with parents to continue to help them feel engaged with their child’s learning. We’ve taken a fresh look at popular parental engagement opportunities (from reports to informal chats on the playground) with 9 tips that are sure to involve every parent in their child’s learning before the end of term.
We guarantee that you’ll find at least one great new idea to implement in your school from our list!
1. A good old fashioned chat
It is very effective to organise a ‘positive phone call home’ particularly if you are teaching the child the next year and the parent has not attended parents evening. Another topic for a phone call home could be regarding a change in recent behaviour that was communicated at parents evening.
Ending the year on a positive note, reflecting on achievements and what they could do next year is a great way to keep parents engaged. Particularly in Year 6, where there will have been a heavy emphasis on SATs, this is a great chance to reflect on the wider achievements, not just those in core subjects.
2. An entire year’s worth of progression to show
A straightforward way to engage parents is to invite them into school to look through their child’s books and reflect on their progress since the start of the year. If you haven’t had parents evening yet, you can put pupils’ exercise books in a pile so that parents can flick through them whilst they wait for their meeting.
Alternatively, you could invite parents into class to look through books half an hour after school for an informal discussion. To ensure parents and pupils get the most out of it, provide a list of prompts for parents to discuss with their children.
3. A picture is worth a thousand words
Throughout the year teachers will have taken lots of photos of pupils on a school trip, during small group work or completing an exciting science experiment. It can be really effective to share photos with parents to allow them to see the activities that their child has been involved in over the course of the year. You could also easily share photos with parents on your school website, blog or Twitter.
If you’re having a school event such as a parents evening or class assembly, you could display the images as a slideshow in the background. If teachers are looking for end of term activities in ICT, they could task pupils with creating their own slideshow or video using the photos.
For 15 ways to kick-start better home learning for your pupils, download our free Guide to Maths at Home. It's easy to follow, easy to use, and contains ideas that tie in closely with what you're teaching in class
4. And the winner is…
To celebrate achievements and positive experiences during the year, send pupils home with something that will remind them of their accomplishments. Holding class or year group awards ceremonies provides the opportunity to give each child a certificate, recognising something they have done particularly well in. These can be for academic achievements, sporting successes or for recognition of things that make a good classmate e.g. for always being kind, for being helpful to others etc.
It is up to teachers of course what you award these for but it is important thing that every child gets recognised. Whether you choose to invite parents and carers or not, this will encourage engagement. Sending a certificate home will instigate discussion around what the child did to achieve it. It can work really well for pupils who may have struggled with particular subjects throughout the year as well.
5. Mum, this was the best year ever!
A nice homework activity during this time of year is to send home prompt questions that encourage pupils to discuss their school year with their parents. This would greatly help engage parents. For example, pupils could be challenged to come up with:
3 favourite activities from the school year
3 greatest achievements
Area they have improved the most in
With pupils who struggle a bit more with retention, it would be a good idea to send home a few more bullet points or photos from the year to help prompt a discussion. This task is great for encouraging reflection and building confidence. By specifying that they should discuss it with their parents, it will encourage valuable one to one discussion between child and parents around their education.
6. Cherish memories for years to come
In Year 6, many schools will be running leavers’ assemblies to reflect on the progress this group of pupils has made throughout their time at the school. Most usually involve drama, singing and reflections on memories from earlier years – a fantastic example of sharing successes with parents. Sadly, it’s not always possible for all parents to be there. For those who can’t make it due to work or other commitments, it can be a good idea to video the performance and shared on the school website, sent out to parents in DVD or as a download.
For younger year groups, whilst it may not be feasible to put on such a performance and invite parents or the family in, you could work as a class on a similar performance, based on the year’s work and create a short photo slideshow or video.
7. Ask and listen rather than tell
It is often tempting, especially during parents evenings, to only tell parents and carers about their child’s progress. However, research has shown that asking open questions and listening to parent responses can be more effective in terms of engagement. Organisations like Achievement for All suggest “structured conversations” which encourages parental engagement as they feel listened to. Whether it’s part of parents evening or a chat on the playground, teachers and SLT should try to encourage parents to reflect on how their child has got on this year with probing questions.
Is there anything in particular you think they have engaged well with this year?
Where do you feel they have made the most improvement?
What have they spoken to you about at home?”
Of course, these may not always elicit positive responses, but it does help build a better relationship. If any particular concerns come up, this is a great chance for staff to discuss with the next teacher during handovers and plan how to address it in the future.
8. A new chapter ahead
The chance for pupils and parents to reflect on their successes should be used to inspire and motivate them as they transition to the next stage in their education. For Year 6s, this will be the exciting but daunting step up into secondary school. They will no doubt be nervous about moving to a new school and it’s great if we can boost their confidence and faith in themselves as much as possible before they move on.
Reviewing the year’s successes will also help to identify areas where a pupil may have struggled or has room for improvement. This is a great opportunity to set targets. Once pupils have had a few chances to reflect, teachers could work with them to identify targets for the following year. These could help engage parents as you could share and encourage them to work on over the summer holidays. It is beneficial for not all targets to have an academic focus. For example, pupils who are very shy and may be worried about moving to a new school. You could set a target around developing confidence and share ideas with parents about how they could do this.
9. Look for prompts and ‘excuses’ to start the conversation
Engaging your pupils in class everyday can be a difficult feat, let alone trying to encourage their parents to take part. But often all that’s needed are a few prompts to get the conversation going. We encourage schools to use the weekly and termly progress reports from our Third Space Learning tutors to talk to parents about what’s been going on in Maths. Most intervention organisations or online teaching programmes should provide these to you. Third Space Learning reports are focused on steps achieved and ‘next steps’ to really drill down into the small units of understanding that contributing to making real progress.
Getting parents engaged in their pupils work shouldn’t be done by teachers alone, but getting SLT and Headteachers on board can work wonders. School leaders who struggle to find time for less day-to-day initiatives like this, should check out our post the secret to primary school leadership, keeping it simple.