More than just a bacon sandwich

St Joseph’s Day today.  Lots of fathers bringing their children into school for bacon sandwiches and cups of tea – or is that that the other way around?  It was delightful to see so many this morning.

Modelling

The feast of St Joseph is on March 19th and the nearest Friday to this date is a chance for us to relate what we know about St Joseph with the role of fathers in the lives of our children at school.  Roles are perhaps not as “traditional” today and families are unique and varied.  Yet it is still true that children benefit from relationships with their parents that are safe and secure but provide effective models for their attitudes and behaviours.  Parents are the primary educators of their children and research shows that there are many reasons for parental involvement in their child’s education.

  • Parental involvement in children’s education from an early age has a significant effect on  educational achievement, and continues to do so into adolescence and adulthood.
  • The quality and content of fathers’ involvement matter more for children’s outcomes than the quantity of time fathers spend with their children.
  • Family learning can also provide a range of benefits for parents and children including  improvements in reading, writing and numeracy as well as greater parental confidence in helping their child at home.
  • The attitudes and aspirations of parents and of children themselves predict later educational achievement. International evidence suggests that parents with high aspirations are also more involved in their children’s education.
  • In 2007, around half of parents surveyed said that they felt very involved in their child’s school life. Two thirds of parents said that they would like to get more involved in their child’s school life (with work commitments being a commonly cited barrier to greater involvement).
  • Levels of parental involvement vary among parents, for example, mothers, parents of young children, Black/Black British parents, parents of children with a statement of Special Educational Needs are all more likely than average to be very involved in their child’s education.

Quality of Involvement

For me, it is essential that we – both teachers and parents – recognise that it is the quality of involvement which is the key to children’s academic and emotional success.  This ranges from well-organised social events to days, like today, where a larger number of parents than usual can be at school from drop off to encouraging parents to volunteer help with reading or other learning activities and holding regular briefings and seminars so that we can share learning objectives and developments at school.
Schools should never be high-pressure environments.  The most successful way to nurture both academic and emotional growth is to provide a safe and positive school culture with a pervasive focus on learning, set high expectations for all, provide a broad and balanced curriculum and involve stakeholders in developing knowledge, skills and understanding (Exploring Underlying Traits of High Performing Schools, Calman R., 2010).  Schools, learning and education are about lighting a fire within the children, understanding their learning needs and providing them with experiences that enable them to aspire to excellence in all that they do.
Days like today at school, and with open day tomorrow, remind us how a community can endeavour to be the best possible place for children in our care.
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