The partnership between families and teachers is a significant component of the educational process. It is considered to be a “complex, multidimensional concept” which is applied to encourage parents to participate in the school life of their children (Fantuzzo et al., 2013, p. 734). It includes a set of interactions both at school and at home. Scholars speak of the importance of parents’ participation in children’s academic achievements and socioemotional development (Booth & Dunn, 2013).
Moreover, it is important to increase the degree of parent and school collaboration to improve educational outcomes (Booth & Dunn, 2013). Goodman and Hooks (2016) claim that it is necessary to provide culturally relevant teaching which links home and school cultures. The interview with a teacher proves that family involvement is crucial for students’ academic results and emotional development. Moreover, it became a basis for the development of family involvement activities which could be used to encourage parents’ participation in the learning and progress of their children.
The teacher I have interviewed is a tutor in middle school. She teaches Social Sciences and is in charge of a Discussion Club for students. She is a mother of two junior school students and she believes that family involvement in education is an important tool for the modern school. One of her ideas is that partnership between school and family makes children feel they are important to parents. In the age of information technology, both children and parents are busy with digital life in their gadgets. Often, it makes children feel lonely and forgotten, which is especially true for adolescents. However, the teacher mentions that the involvement should be real and not limited to rare visits.
I asked if active involvement has any negative outcomes, such as infantile behavior among students or lack of personal responsibility. The interviewee believes that there always is a possibility that parents misinterpret the function of involvement and start acting not together, but instead of their children. It is the primary task of a teacher to explain the essence of family participation in school life and outline the possible positive outcomes.
The teacher believes that family support and their engagement in learning and other school activities contribute to building a positive classroom environment. Her experience proves that students whose parents or other caregivers are actively involved at school, show higher academic results, are better socialized, and rarely demonstrate deviant behavior. Children feel support from the family which is interested in their learning. As a result, they are less stressed, which also has a positive impact on the educational process.
Family Involvement Activities
There is a variety of family involvement activities that can be applied. Their choice depends on the setting, age of students, and the expected outcomes. Thus, the following activities can be used to encourage parents’ participation in school life.
Volunteering is, probably, one of the most spread activities for parent involvement. It can be used for any age but will be particularly useful for young students. For example, parents can accompany a class on an excursion. It is often difficult to organize children on trips, and some adult assistants will be helpful. Such involvement will not only positively influence the organization of the excursion, but will also create a positive image of parents. Also, parents can be helpful in a classroom with junior students. For example, they can distribute materials or help children to get in and out of the classroom while they are small. It makes the classroom more organized. Moreover, children believe that their parents are important because they can help at school.
Parent as a Teacher
Another activity is not so common, but still curious. It is more suitable for middle and senior school. Parents who have unusual or just interesting professions can come to a class and share their experiences. As a rule, such classes make students interested. It is useful for the future professional choice of children as well. Another positive outcome of such meetings is the growing popularity of a child whose parents appeared to be interesting for the class. Moreover, it improves the image of a parent for a child who could not know that a mother or a father has a nice profession and can be interesting for their classmates.
Participation in charity is one more activity to involve parents in school activities. Thus, charity fairs organized to support ill children or environmental issues can become events that unite families. It is not related to classroom activities that have great uniting potential. For example, parents and children can make something to be sold on a fair. Common activities positively influence the family climate, and the student whose parents actively participate in such activities can become more popular in a class.
In conclusion, it can be stated that the issue of involving a family in-school activity is a concern of contemporary education. It has advantages both for learning and family relations. Positive learning outcomes include better academic results and socialization. Benefits for families include the increase of trust and supportive relations. Thus, family involvement activities can be recommended for application in different educational institutions.
Booth, A., & Dunn, J.F. (Eds.). (2013). Family-school links: How do they affect educational outcomes? New York, NY: Routledge.
Fantuzzo, J., Gadsden, V., Li, F., Sproul, F., McDermott, Hightower, D., Minney, A. (2013). Multiple dimensions of family engagement in early childhood education: Evidence for a short form of the Family Involvement Questionnaire. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 28(3), 734-742. Web.
Goodman, K., & Hooks, L. (2016). Encouraging family involvement through culturally relevant pedagogy. SRATE Journal, 25(2), 33-41.