I was having a conversation the other day with a friend who homeschools her two children.
We were discussing how she doesn’t always know everything required by the curriculum. She explained she “outsources” when she needs help to teach her children certain topics.
“I outsource 100% of my kids’ education!” I quipped back. “I outsource to the Education Department.”
And, while that may be true at face value, on reflection I realised I don’t actually outsource all of my children’s education. And nor should I.
I am just as responsible for my children’s education as their school is, if not more so.
That’s because Australian children only spend approximately 35% of their waking hours each week in school. Given that figure, it isn’t surprising that experts speculate that the school environment only accounts for 20%-40% of student achievement.
So if parents want their children to be successful academically, it pays to be involved.
The level of engagement parents have in their children’s learning has been shown to have significant outcomes for children. A report on parental engagement in learning and schooling by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) collates a wide range of research that highlights the benefits, including:
- more regular school attendance
- better social skills
- improved behaviour
- better adaptation to school
- increased social capital
- greater sense of personal competence and efficacy for learning
- greater engagement in school work
- a stronger belief in the importance of education
So how involved are you?
With many parents already feeling overwhelmed by work and other commitments, it is understandable that not every parent can physically be present in the school environment. The good news is you don’t have to be.
While helping out on excursions, reading in class or volunteering at the tuckshop can be beneficial, particularly socially and emotionally, being involved in your child’s schooling goes beyond that.
Some practical suggestions include:
- Creating a home environment that encourages learning with a designated study area, resources, books, as well as time and support for homework.
- Talking to children about what they are learning, taking an interest in what they enjoy and providing opportunities to extend their learning.
- Help foster organisational and problem-solving skills that can be applied at school and beyond.
- Engaging with school on a broad level – newsletters, information sessions and other communication channels such as social media or apps.
- Regular two-way communication with teachers about your child’s strengths and weaknesses, assessments and any ongoing concerns. This may be through email, phone, text or face-to-face.
- Providing opportunities for your child to learn outside of school through visits to libraries, museums, community events or just in the great outdoors.
Once you look at this list many of you will probably see that you are more involved in your child’s schooling than you first thought.
Seeing yourself as a partner in education with your child’s school, rather than considering it an “outsourced” task, can help ensure you remain actively involved and engaged in your child’s education.