Working with Parents to Support Children’s Learning

7 December 2018

The new EEF Guidance Report, Working with Parents to Support Children’s Learning, has been eagerly anticipated by us at Sandringham Research School.  Engaging parents and developing effective working relationships with them can be critical in ensuring the very best outcomes for all children. As Sir Kevan Collins says in his foreword to the report:

“We know that levels of parental engagement are consistently associated with children’s academic outcomes.  We also know that a parent’s job, education and income matters less to their child’s development than what they actually do with them.”

This Guidance Report offers four evidence-based recommendations for primary and secondary schools:

Recommendation 1: Critically review how you work with parents

The theme that underpins the report is that it is essential that we review and monitor any activities we use to encourage parental engagement to ensure they are having the intended outcomes.  This is particularly important as the evidence base in this area is not as strong as the EEF would like.

Recommendation 2: Provide strategies to support learning at home

As a parent myself, I often find it challenging to know how best to support my daughter’s learning at home, and in particular how to align this support with what she is doing at school. This section of the report provides clear strategies that schools can share with parents to support this process. Different age groups need different approaches; with younger children shared activities such as reading together are appropriate, but with older children an interest in your children’s learning is more important than direct involvement.  There is also an interesting section on homework and how parents can be pivotal in creating the right environment for effective routines, but that we need to be cautious about direct parental assistance. 

Recommendation 3: Tailor school communications to encourage positive dialogue

The key message here is be positive, personalise and link to learning, with research evidence suggesting that communication can have a positive impact on a range of outcomes such as attainment and attendance.  Text messaging, in particular, is shown to bean approach with promise, but thought needs to be given to the frequency,timing and targeting of the messages. 

Recommendation 4: Offer more sustained and intensive support where needed

The report clearly identifies that for some families more intensive approaches are needed and that these can be associated with larger learning gains.  However, these strategies can be significantly more difficult to implement.

For us, what shines through in this report is that an optimistic and positive approach to working with parents, combined with a strategic approach, can really pay dividends.

The full Guidance Report can be found here.

Posted on 7 December 2018
Posted in: Blog

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