In their book “Do Parents Know They Matter? Raising achievement through parental engagement,” authors Alma Harris, Kirstie Andrew-Power, and Dr Janet Goodall examine the importance of parents. “The fundamental argument throughout this book is that parents have to engage with student learning in the home for any significant and sustained learning gains to occur. Hence, schools should be looking to maximize support for learning in the home as a top priority in any developmental activity aimed at engaging parents.” (from the Introduction, page XV)
And when the authors speak about parental engagement, they make sure to stress that it cannot be a “bolt on” but rather has to be at the “centre [British spelling] of all aspects of school life.” (pg. 49)
Parents . . . are by far the most important influences on their children’s lives. They influence how young people think about education, their future and society. Therefore, their support for schools and engagement in learning is crucial if improving learning outcomes for each student in each setting is to be more than an aspiration. (pg. 9)
Some interesting insights came to light in the book when the authors discussed a parental engagement project they were involved with in school settings.
“In the EPRA [Engaging Parents to Raise Achievement] project, parents and students tended to view engagement as broadly offering support to students, while school staff generally thought it was more about supporting the school in their work with students.” (pg. 62)
“Both parents and students highlighted moral support for learning as the central purpose of parental engagement. This emphasis on the importance of education shows that parents and students shared a broad understanding that parental engagement was more than simply being involved with the school they understood that it included a variety of things, from simply taking an interest in how a student’s day had gone, through to help with homework, discussions about the student’s future and educational options, to provision of study materials and other help with study. Effective parental engagement includes engagement with the school, engagement with school work, and engagement with learning.” (pg. 66-66)
This book presents helpful research, some good ideas for educators and schools, and the message that parents really do matter. At the end of the book are appendixes that offer additional resources, including a “Best Practices” type list that profiles schools with successful parental engagement programs. Check out the book if you are looking for more research on Parental Engagement.