“At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key in a child’s success is the positive involvement of the parents.” – Jane D. Hull

Since time in memorial, the home environment and the family are the easiest to make positive and constructive changes in a child’s learning.

The COVID-19 pandemic heightened the need for parents to get more involved in school activities and interact better with children outside the school environment and at home.

Now more than ever, parents are highly interested in their children’s learning progress and performance, especially in specific subjects that will give them stability in the future.

The pandemic period revealed significant gaps whenever more learning and assessment was required in the home environment.

The parents’ expectations of their children’s future need to match the performance results and outcomes received, whether in the sciences, in business studies, or in the arts and humanities.

Several research studies show that the degree to which parents engage and children get involved in their learning and assessment are largely influenced by parents’ income, occupation, socio-economic situation, education, and attitude toward involvement.

Barriers to parental involvement in student learning and assessment:

  1. Lack of time

Parents highlight influences for lack of time as: work commitments (shifts, working away from home), single/lone parents, more than one child/child care arrangements, child with a disability, children attending different schools, new/complex family structures, and/or  lack of opportunities for more flexible/less frequent involvement

  1. Parental attitude

A parent’s attitude may be influenced by: additional responsibility of home learning setting or school, commitment of one parent resulting in lack of involvement from the other parent, challenge of engaging fathers, negative consequences for children e.g. bullying, children become more dependent, triggering unpleasant memories of parent’s own school experiences, and/or uneducated parents or carers may feel they don’t have a role to play and there is no place for them in the out-of-class learning and assessment setting or in the school.

  1. Children’s attitude towards parental involvement

Student’s express and imply responses such as resistance to parental involvement, embarrassment of older children, and/or asserting right to independence

  1. School learning and assessment settings

Instances where parents shun involvement due to school’s learning and assessment setting include:

  • The school’s complexity of data,
  • School’s working time agreements,
  • Lack of opportunities for meaningful involvement,
  • Lack of information about opportunities to become involved,
  • Lack of flexibility of opportunities,
  • Lack of regular opportunities to discuss child’s progress,
  • The school is unwelcoming,
  • Lack of opportunity for social events,
  • School’s lack of knowledge of parents’ skill and experience,
  • Lack of awareness of collaboration/community-based activities,
  • Lack of awareness of different cultures and influences on family life,
  • Lack of awareness of family background or issues at home that are impacting on children’s learning.

Ways teachers can improve parent involvement in learning and assessment

Family interaction in outside-school learning and assessment should be encouraged as well as cooperation with schools.

Schools and teachers should guide parents on how to get involved through training and discussion forums since not all have the skill or know-how of engaging in children’s learning objectives and goals.

Good training of parents leads to better results that can be attained regarding learning progress, skills mastery, and overall children’s performance.

For teachers to improve parents engagement in the process of assessing students, we identified several aspects for good training of parents:

  1. Teachers need to make sure that parents have a good understanding of formative assessment and summative assessment. Formative assessment is used to identify how a student perceives the gaps between their expectations and desired goals, how they take ownership and action in their learning trajectory, given the learning objectives, to close those gaps to reach the desired goals. Teachers should remember that highly interactive relationships are part of the dynamic process of formative assessment and parents should be encouraged to fully participate in that process. While summative assessment is used to identify what learners have learned and then conduct the judgment and summary of the progress.
  2. Teachers need to involve parents in the three domains of assessment objectives: Attitude, Knowledge, and Skills. Parents who are involved and well-engaged in students’ learning are an important key to assessing and improving student achievement. Teachers can train on the benefits of designing assessment activities using the Bloom’s Taxonomy framework that helps to achieve the 3 objectives, and time management vital for change or improvement in different aspects.

For example, approximately 6 hours a day of a child’s waking time are spent in classroom activities of learning and assessment, while the rest of the waking hours are spent at home or out of school. How a child spends their waking hours can be determined by the culture governing the family and the environment family members are living in, which further influences the members’ change and development.

  1. School heads/principals/owners need to encourage parents to join the collaborative assessment process since it will promote achievement in students and increase satisfaction in parents and teachers and improve the school climate. This increases motivation for well-educated parents who lack power and opportunity to be active at school. It works well when there is effective communication between teachers and parents on the desired results and goals for the assessment activities.

Take a pick at ntemata, an assessment platform designed with parents’ involvement in mind.

The tool offers group and peer parents assessment features through discussion forums, chats, auto generated reporting. It gives real-time feedback to parents, students, and teachers regarding a students’ progress and performance, with a clear understanding of the child’s learning trajectory.

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