Will stronger school-parent links continue after the coronavirus lockdown?

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Will stronger school-parent links continue after the coronavirus lockdown?

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Communications between schools and parents have increased in a number of education systems during the coronavirus lockdown. While there have been, and continue to be many challenges for parents and teachers arising from school closures, stronger school-parent links will be valuable to maintain and build after confinement ends.

OECD studies of both five-year-olds and 15-year-olds find clear associations between parents’ involvement in their child’s school or early childhood education and care (ECEC) centre and the child’s learning and well-being. Five-year-olds whose parents are strongly or moderately involved in their school or ECEC centre have higher cognitive and social-emotional skills than children whose parents are less involved. 

Early cognitive and social-emotional skills by level of parental involvement

Score-point differences between children whose parents are strongly or moderately involved with their school or ECEC centre, and those whose parents are slightly or not involved, before and after accounting for socio-economic status (SES).

Note: Statistically significant differences are shown in a darker tone. (IELS database, 2020)

The magnitude of these benefits ranges from 3 to 12 months of expected learning progression. These benefits accrue similarly for boys and girls and for children from different socio-economic groups. Around one third of parents is regarded by teachers as strongly involved, compared to a similar proportion which is regarded as slightly or not involved.

Lockdown has strengthened school-parent links in some education sytems

Over the past weeks and months, school closures have led many education systems to put in place support for both parents and teachers. An example from Latvia is the Educational TV Channel Tava Klase (“Your Class”), which targets parents in addition to students and teachers. A parent group has been involved in setting up and running the channel. 

A recent survey of parents, students and teachers in Latvia during lockdown found a highly positive relationship between the clarity of communications between schools and parents, and parents’ levels of confidence that their child would achieve his or her learning goals. 

Clarity of communication with parents and parents’ confidence their child will achieve their learning goals

National Centre for Education of the Republic of Latvia, 2020

A report for school leaders based on the above survey noted, “Schools that manage to treat teaching as a team activity will have an easier time than those that simply put the old school schedule online”.

Stronger school-parent links will help to address learning gaps that have emerged during lockdown

Stronger relationships between parents and their child’s school will be particularly important for education systems seeking to accelerate learning to address gaps that have emerged during confinement. For example, teachers can support and guide parents on how to provide enhanced learning at home, including explaining the child’s current learning goals and activities to support their achievement. At the same time, parents can help teachers to understand any issues that have arisen for the child during the lockdown period, as well as the child’s home context, interests and concerns. Such student-centred approaches support more “family-like schools” and “school-like families” to develop.

Also on the Forum Network:

Responding to Coronavirus: Back to School by Tracey Burns, Senior Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills, OECD

While stronger school-parent links benefit all students, it is also one of the most effective ways to improve equity for children from disadvantaged families, where home learning environments tend to be weaker than in advantaged families.

The issue now is whether education systems will seek to maintain and build on stronger links between parents and schools. Those who do seek to pro-actively build these relationships as schools and ECEC centres re-open will support better student learning and well-being. 

For more information

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