Parental Engagement: The Core of Your Child’s Education

It takes a village.

Educasic
Published in
5 min readMay 22, 2016

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You’ve heard the phrase a thousand times, but what’s talked about less often is what “village” means in today’s world. If it takes a village to raise a child, what does your child’s modern-day village look like? Who makes up the village?

The modern village is ideally comprised of those who are closest to your child on a consistent basis and who have his or her best interest in mind. More specifically, the village is often made up of guardians and educators.

While both village members, the parent and the educator, play an enormous role in a child’s learning and development, one role seems to matter more, and it may not be the one you’d guess.

You are not the only voice in your child’s ear. Make sure you are the best voice in your child’s ear. — Dr Phil

In its Review of Best Practice in Parental Engagement, The UK Department for Education found that engagement from parents is more important than the particular school their child attends.

The 223-page document goes on to report that parental engagement has a “large and positive” impact on a child’s learning, achievements, and ability to adjust to their environment- some pretty crucial stuff.

But let’s rewind for a moment. As parents, we think that choosing the best school means our child has the best chance for success in this world. And yet here we’ve come across strong support for a different mindset, a mindset that suggests your level of involvement in your child’s learning is actually more important than the school you spent so long vetting.

What is parental engagement?

There are, of course, many answers to this question. One of our favorites comes from the Australian Research Alliance For Children and Youth (ARACY), which says that parental engagement consists of partnerships between families, schools, and communities and includes the participation in and facilitation of learning experiences outside the classroom. Given that children learn everywhere and at all times- not just in school- this hits the mark.

We begin teaching our children long before school begins, and once it does, we continue to influence them long after the last bell rings. We need to be sure the influence we have on them is positive. We need to get engaged.

How can parents become more engaged?

First, let’s acknowledge what we’re all thinking: we’re really, really busy. Some of us have impossibly demanding work schedules, others have elderly parents that need constant care. Some of us are single parents, others have more than one young child who needs attention at any given time. Many of us are dealing with all of the above. You name it, and parents all over the world are dealing with it. But we’re not here to remind you of your stressors. We’re here to help.

If it’s not already obvious, Educasic built Sights specifically to facilitate better parental engagement with their child’s learning. We know getting quality learning time with your child outside the classroom takes some effort and creativity, which is why we believe the Sights App for Parents is such a life saver (heck, making life easier for parents is why we built the app in the first place).

Sights App for Parents

It goes something like this:

You get a reminder email from your app, and the two of you sit together and open the Sights App. She practices reciting each sight word as you press the pretty blue “Yes” and “No” buttons. After the level is completed, boom. High five! You guys are finished studying! Not only are you directly connected with Victoria’s teacher, but you’ve spent a few minutes learning together without distractions. Another perk: no piles of flash cards scattered around your living room! *Cue sighs of relief.*

Of course, the Sights App isn’t the only way to engage more fully with your child’s learning.

Increase quality of time vs. quantity of time.

You may not always be able to carve out all the time you want to spend with your child, but you can make the time that you do have quality time. Leave your phone in the other room. Get hands on. Create a “learning corner” or designate a “learning chair” where you and your child go to focus and learn. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, creating a dedicated space with minimal distractions can help you get plugged in to the material your child is learning.

You probably already set aside time each night for homework, dinner, PJ time, story time, and other activities where you and your child are together. During these times, it can be easy to check emails or write texts or have multiple conversations going at once. But if you do, you could be missing readily available opportunities to check in with your child. Even the simple task of reviewing your child’s planner with them and checking off the things they’ve completed can be an opportunity for praise and a chance nurture a sense of accomplishment.

Use these kinds of everyday activities as a chance to foster conversation about what they’re learning, what activities they did in school that day, etc. Often, the more we discuss and reflect on what we’re learning, the better we retain that knowledge. As parents, we can’t underestimate what a difference this kind of daily communication makes in our child’s educational outcomes.

If you’re looking for additional ideas for engaging with your chlid’s learning, here are a couple additional resources: The National PTA has listed 100 ways for parents to be involved in their child’s education and Care.com has listed 16 ways parents can be involved in their child’s classroom based off of how many free hours the parents have to spare.

The common thread is you.

All of these articles and studies about your child’s education have one very important thing in common: You. The parent. Your engagement with your child and village members has a direct impact on your child’s education. When our children are educated with the help of an engaged parent, they grow up knowing to do the same for their children. And from there, the future gets that much brighter.

Is your child learning sight words in school? Have their teacher check out www.getSights.com.

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Educasic

Passionate startup dedicated to #EdTech, #WomeninTech, and #ECE. Teach sight words? Visit us at www.getSights.com.