Parent Engagement Key to Student Learning

Here’s a quote you’ve heard before:

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

Most people attribute these words to Benjamin Franklin. Still others contend the Founding Father borrowed them from a Chinese proverb. Whatever their origin, there’s no disputing their potency.

Research demonstrates that when students are actively engaged in their lessons they achieve higher performance. With the persistent advancement of school technology, educators have more resources than ever to close what the Resource Area for Teaching calls the “engagement gap,” a crippling disinterest that occurs when students tune out in the classroom.

Engaged learning takes many forms, from encouraging students to provide feedback about their experiences to writing their own lesson plans.

The goal is simple: to help students become more independent and give them a louder say in their education.

But it isn’t just students who benefit from richer engagement with their schools; the advantages of two-way communication extend outward to parents and community members as well. Unfortunately, many schools still struggle with this brand of communication.

Getting families up to speed
When Texas schools began phasing out hardcover textbooks with more universally accessible digital resources, parents and community members were pitched on a simple concept: that technology would extend the benefits of the classroom to the home.

A 2011 law (Senate Bill 6) made it possible for schools to funnel some of the money previously allotted for traditional textbooks to electronic resources.

For the first time, classroom websites would make it possible for parents to access many of the same educational resources, from class notes to videos, that their children used in school.

Five years later, reports suggest that while the technology is reaching families at home, some of it has led to confusion, even frustration, among parents who say they are either underwhelmed by the resources, or clueless as to how to use them to help their students learn.

In an article that first appeared on KUT News 90.5 out of Austin, one father said that new resources and teaching methods make it hard for him to help. “There’s no education for parents about what the child is supposed to do and the child brings you this sheet and says ‘I have to solve this problem.'”

Comments like these expose the chasm that still exists between schools and home. Even as new resources and technologies emerge to engage parents in the education of their children, poor communication and training threaten to render many of these efforts useless.

Does your district use technology to bridge the gap between schools and home? If so, what is it doing to ensure that parents know and understand how to use these resources when working with their children? Tell us in the comments.

Want to learn how parents are adjusting to the use of technology-based educational resources at home? Consider conducting a survey to gauge the impact of digital transformation in your district.

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