Effective parental engagement can begin with a simple question.
In 2008 the (then) Department for Children Schools and Families published 'The Impact of Parental Involvement on Children's Education' noted in the key findings that 'Parental involvement in children's education from an early age has a significant effect om educational achievement’ and that 'Family learning can also provide a range of benefits for parents and children including improvements in reading, writing and numeracy'. Those findings were reinforced in a National College of School Leadership (2010) document titled 'Leadership for Parental Engagement' which concluded 'The single core belief that threads through all the work illustrated here is that the best way to improve the engagement of young people in maximising their opportunities for the future is to work in meaningful collaborative partnership with their parents'.
Bringing these considerations right up to date a recent (April 2015) on-line discussion, hosted by The Guardian, included contributions by the respected academic from the University of Bath, Janet Goodall, who has a pedigree of extensive work in the field of parental engagement. She noted that ‘research seems to show that it's what happens in the home - the attitude toward learning in the home - that makes a difference to children's achievement.’
There is a place for designed programmes for parental engagement, giving parents and carers the tools and strategies that they need to support learning. Fulcrum Learning are proud to provide two programmes: theHappy Learner Programme for primary phase and the Independent Learner Programmefor the secondary phase.
However good a designed programme is there is a need for regular, informed dialogue. The commonplace attempt to start this by parents is the question ‘How did you do in school today?' or 'What did you learn in school today?' This can result in a series of typical responses ranging from a tsunami of recollections, through a carefully selected highlight, to the classic teenage (and increasingly, pre-teen) grunt. The question is well-intended but without knowledge it rarely draws a response that leads to a dialogue that reinforces and develops learning.
Wouldn’t it be great then if there was a simple, effective method by which teachers could inform parents about the positive developments of the day so that these could be reinforced and developed at home? Would it be wonderful as a parent to start a dialogue by praising your child's achievement in class that day? We think a simple and effective method like that is something to celebrate as being essential in forming well-constructed parental engagement, which is why we were delighted to encounter Marvellous Me. This app strengthens and develops parental engagement by acting as the link between home, school and child. Discussing the day’s learning becomes an informed dialogue instead of a guessing game. Praise at home can reinforce achievement in school. Learning can be extended by parents in a timely and supportive manner.
We were shown how this app functions in less than five minutes, and can be used by teachers and parents in half that time. It really was an impressive demonstration of how mobile technology can be applied to get parental engagement working at the level of daily dialogue.