What is Parent Participation by alendar


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									                                          What is PP?

                    What is Parent Participation?
Parent participation in schooling is generally perceived as providing a home
environment that supports children’s learning at school and being involved in their
child’s school. However, parents play multiple roles in support of children's learning, at
home, in the community, at school and in home/school interaction and communication.
Some of these aspects of parent participation affect children's schooling directly, others
more indirectly, but they all have a bearing on the learning of children at school.

Much discussion of parent participation is based on what schools and teachers define
as the key elements of parent involvement in learning. It is usually defined in terms of
preparing their children for school (through assisting the development of pre-reading
and reading skills and the promotion of language development), attending school
events (such as parent-teacher information evenings and interviews) and monitoring or
assisting with homework. As Lareau [2000, p.32] observes, school support for parent
participation is generally focused on encouraging and helping parents to prepare
children for school and reinforcing the curriculum at home.

This is a narrow perspective as it fails to take account of other ways in which parents
are involved in schooling.

Parents play the central role in providing the circumstances to support learning and
attendance at school. These are the basic parenting functions of ensuring children are
fed, clothed, rested and so on in order to participate in school. Parents also generally
try to ensure that their children attend school regularly and on time. Parents also make
various arrangements to ensure that children ’s time at school is supported by food or
money to buy food, books, stationery, items needed for class activities and other things
requested by teachers and the school.

These are important aspects of parent involvement. They often involve considerable
organisation by parents and the impact of parental failure in these areas can have a
considerable impact on the classroom and the teacher’s life. However, schools
generally assume these things will happen and as a result tend to focus on parent roles
in supporting school education.

In addition to supporting children’s development in the family environment and
supporting learning at home, parent participation also includes involvement in the
activities of schools. This may include attending school functions, providing volunteer
services and participating in the decision-making structures of the school.

A useful classification of the scope of parent participation in schooling is that provided
by Epstein [1995, 2001] and Epstein et. al. [1997, see also National PTA 2000]. It
incorporates six types of involvement:

    parent involvement in learning at home;
    communication between home and school;
    volunteer support services;
    participation in decision-making and policy development; and
    organising community resources/services.

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                                         What is PP?

Families provide the essential foundation for children’s growth. They provide nurturing
and care and the basic essentials of clothing, shelter, food and health. These basic
obligations are central to children's ability to develop and achieve success at school.

Schools can help families meet their basic obligations for safeguarding their children's
health and safety, developing their social skills, and raising them in a manner which
enables them to make full use of their educational opportunities.

Parent involvement in learning at home
Probably the most widespread form of co-operation between school and home is the
practice of parents supporting their children at home. Parent involvement in children's
learning at home is an important factor in children's success at school. It includes both
involvement in formal schoolwork and general developmental learning through
childhood and adolescence. As such it takes many forms.

Parent involvement in learning at home may involve direct support of school practices
by helping children with tasks such as learning to read or completing homework
assignments. Parents help their children by supervising homework, particularly in
children's research efforts and sharing numerous informal educational activities.
Parents also support learning of their children through everyday learning in the home
environment, learning which complements formal school learning. These activities
include those conducted by parents in the home in providing support, stimulus,
resources and encouragement for their children's learning.

Schools can provide information and assistance to parents about helping their children's
learning at home.

Homework is a key link between home and school. Homework has silently penetrated
homes and impacted on family life. Homework has made the home an extension of the
classroom. While it is often rationalised as a way to keep parents informed and involved
in their children’s learning, there are also consequences for not completing homework.
It is commented on in progress reports on students and is often included in
assessment/grades for subjects, particularly in relation to projects and essays.

Communication between home and school
Communication between school and home about school programs and children's
progress is a feature of parent/school partnerships. Maintaining effective lines of
communication is one of the most basic elements of supporting home-school
partnerships. Parents and teachers operate in different contexts around children's
learning and view the child from different perspectives. Unless there is a systematic
and sustained effort to bridge the two contexts and perspectives, the likelihood is that
the child's education will suffer [Hegarty 1993, p.117].

Schools have obligations to inform parents about school programs and their children's
progress. Clear information on all school policies, programs and expectations for
children at school should be provided to parents.

Effective learning is enhanced if the school also has an understanding of the lives of
children and factors affecting their development. The school needs to be informed on
the child's learning difficulties as seen from home and the wide range of factors which
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                                         What is PP?

have a bearing on them. Teachers can learn a great deal from parents about the child's
pattern of difficulties. How children learn outside school may give teachers a broader
understanding of how individual children do actually learn and help them provide more
effective learning experiences in school [Hegarty 1993, p.120].

This requires close two-way communication between parents and school and there
should be opportunities for parents to regularly talk to teachers.

Apart from satisfying parents' right to know what goes on in the schools their children
attend, two-way communication can accommodate parental input in the formulation of a
school's policies, goals and practices, inform parents of students' progress and yield
feedback on parents' expectations and their perceptions of students's needs.

Communication between schools and parents can occur in a variety of ways including
parent/teacher interviews (formal or informal), reporting on student progress and
parents letting teachers know what is happening in students’ lives. Home visits are a
way of exchanging information between teachers and parents.

Volunteer support activities
Volunteering by parents in schools is a traditional form of parent participation and one
which schools value highly. Parents give their time and skills to support schools,
teachers and students in a variety of ways such as helping in classrooms, school
excursions, the library and other areas of the school. Fund raising is an important
component. Parents also volunteer to provide support services such as a canteen and
before and after school care activities. Parents attend school events to show support
for the school and its students.

Participation in decision-making and policy development
Parent participation in decision-making occurs both at the system and school levels.

Parents may be represented on school governing bodies and school committees and
these provide opportunities for parent participation in decision-making. Many education
systems have school boards comprised of teacher, parent and community
representatives. Boards may be involved in developing the educational policies of a
school and allocate funds to different purposes. To this extent they provide a key
mechanism for parent participation in decision-making.

Parents may also be represented on various system level advisory committees and
reference groups.

Organising community resources/services
Schools can collaborate with agencies, businesses, cultural organisations and other
groups to assist in children's learning and development. Many different institutions,
agencies, cultural and sporting associations and other groups within the community
have a part to play in rearing and educating children. Work experience programs in
local businesses, health care, integrated support services for families, breakfast clubs
and after-school care are all examples of such partnerships. Parents may play an
active role in these kinds of organisations and the resources they provide for schools.

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