I attended a very interesting workshop discussing successful schools and the “Four Paths” that they take in leadership. As Ken Leithwood discusses these in “School Leaders’ Influences on Student Learning: The Four Paths”:
- The Rational Path – Based on the understanding of learning, teaching, and curriculum.
- The Emotional Path – The development of relationships and trust within our organizations.
- The Organizational Path – Structure, policies and procedures of our schools.
- The Family Path – The importance of parental engagement.
What I actually found interesting, but wasn’t surprised, was that the “Organizational Path” was listed as the lowest factor on student learning and achievement, while the “Family Path” has the highest impact. Leithwood shared that although parent engagement in the education of the child at school is important, their impact at home is much higher. He also discusses the importance of bringing parents on side to be a part of this learning:
Although parent involvement in school has far less impact on student learning than parent influence in the home, children benefit from their parents’ engagement in their learning in both locations (Epstein, 1995). Evidence from Leithwood and Jantzi’s (2006) review indicates that parent engagement in school is nurtured when parents come to understand that such involvement is a key part of what it means to be a responsible parent, when parents believe they have the skills and know-how to make meaningful contributions to the school’s efforts and when they believe that school staffs, as well as their own children, value their participation in the school. (Leithwood, School Leaders’ Influence on Learning; The Four Paths, p.8)
This year at Forest Green, we have really tried to impact parent understanding of learning by having teachers share learning through blogs, switching to student led conferences, having a comprehensive report card that works to identify each child’s strengths and areas of growth. As principal, I often see parents volunteering directly in their child’s classroom which would obviously further their understanding of learning in the classroom. I have also collected several links on how we can further engage parents in the learning process within our schools.
As we know that a parent’s engagement in their child’s learning significantly impacts the achievement and growth of each child, what are some other ways that we can facilitate this? Many parents are not able to spend significant time at school, so how can we do more to bring them in on their child’s learning? With easy access to technology, are there better ways that we can provide opportunities for parents to be more connected with this learning at home?
I would love your thoughts on how we can further facilitate this important connection.