Promising practices in parental engagement – building learning power

rs6-blog-bannerBill-LucasThis is the fourth in a series of articles adapted from the SSAT publication Redesigning Schooling – 6 – Engaging parents: why and how, authored by Professor Bill Lucas. SSAT members can download the full publication for free from the members’ area of the website.

With Guy Claxton, Maryl Chambers and Graham Powell, I have tried to adapt Joyce Epstein’s framework of Six Types of Involvement to focus more obviously on the development of dispositions necessary for a lifetime of learning; as we would put it, building their learning power. Below is an adapted version of what we have developed.

Parent engagement and support for learning

Epstein’s six types of parent engagementSpecific focus on supporting learning
Type 1: Parenting
Helping all families to have the basic home conditions in place including active parenting strategies and regular communication with school
Helping all parents to become learning coaches and specifically to understand core principles of effective reward and praise strategies. Exploring what ‘tough love’ means in practice and dealing with the challenges of setting boundaries. Offering workshops on a variety of topics such as setting goals, giving feedback and the methods used to teach different subjects.
Type 2: Communicating
Designing effective home-to- school and school-to-home communication methods which engage all parents regularly
Truly welcoming all parents and families. Enabling parents to see teaching and learning at first hand at school on a regular basis. Giving clear advice on how parents can support their children’s learning, with detailed weekly suggestions for enrichment activities and suggestions for local family learning. Providing a physical space specifically designed for parents and families.
Type 3: Volunteering
Recruiting volunteer parents to help in school, in classes and in extra-curricular activities
Recruiting volunteer parents to act as Parent Learning Champions in school and within the parent body. Training volunteers to act as learning coaches with students. Making a regular inventory of parent, family and community talents widely available to all.
Type 4: Learning at home
Providing good information to enable all parents to help with homework and offer other family learning activities
Rethinking homework to become a range of home learning activities designed to exercise pupils’ minds in support of learning undertaken at school. Arranging workshops and support materials for parents. Excellent use of technology and school website to facilitate parental support at home.
Type 5: Decision-making
Including parents in decision-making activities to build a sense of ownership including being involved in governance
Engaging parents in school decision- making, including membership of the governing body, parent-teacher association, working groups, etc, helps them to see how they can work with teachers to improve learning outcomes for all children.
Type 6: Collaborating with community
Finding and using resources from the wider parent community to enrich school life
Creating and using a talent bank of parents and community members with passions, skills and enthusiasms who can be or become local learning heroes and coaches.

Professor Bill Lucas, along with Professor Guy Claxton, created the Expansive Education Network – one of the biggest teacher researcher groups in the world. Find out more here.

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