I just finished reading a post on Bluyonder about how important it is that parents are an integral part of a child’s learning journey. This has always been the case and you do not need to be a rocket scientist to work it out. His post reflected on a primary school in Victoria that has done this successfully.
I think it is far easier to do this in a primary school where the connections with the local community are very strong. Secondary schools usually gather students from a range of communities and while some are able to foster very active P and F bodies most struggle to get the type of involvement that primary schools achieve.
From my experience in both sectors I feel it is very much cultural in terms of the type of approach to education happening in both environments. The secondary sector definitely does not encourage parent involvement. In fact in some of the schools I have been in it has been definitely discouraged. Parents are kept at arms length and are seen as trouble. I have seen secondary teachers cringe when they are told a parent would like to speak with them. Rather than seeing the parent as a partner in learning they are seen as an ‘enemy’ particularly when they question what is happening with their child’s learning.
In my primary years the teachers I worked with saw things differently. Parent involvement was encouraged and catching up with parents at the end of the day as they picked up their children was a way of touching base with the things that happened during the day. Problems could be sorted quickly and the parent felt part of the process. I know a number of parents who have found the transition from primary to secondary difficult simply because they no longer felt connected to the learning process.
I think it is incredibly important for schools to engage their parent body now with the incorporation of technology challenging parents in so many ways. They often do not understand what is happening in the classroom or how they can use technology to make their lives and that of their child easier.
We now have so many ways for parents to feel connected to their child’s learning but we are not taking advantage of them. I know my school uses the website as their main source of communication. This is a one way street and gives no avenue for parents to generate discussion or provide feedback. Perhaps a blog maybe a better avenue of communication?
We sometimes talk about the learning process being a partnership but far too often that is all we do. Talk! Until we get serious about incorporating parents into the Stage 4-6 process we will continue to struggle with issues around behaviour management and student disengagement.