Classroom performance and academic achievements are significantly influenced by the extent to which a child’s parents become involved in school life, and the interest they take in their child’s education. Simply by being aware of their child’s progress and understanding their achievements, parents provide additional motivation for their child to work hard in class. However- in order to establish and maintain this interest, there needs to be regular and reliable communication and sharing of information between the teacher and pupils’ families. Class teachers must create an effective partnership by providing an open and communicative environment with its wider community, forming a link between the classroom and the home.
So how can teachers begin to involve parents more in the learning process?
In the past, messages from the school to the home relied heavily upon ‘pupil post.’ Frustratingly for teachers and parents, numerous painstakingly, handwritten letters rarely arrived home in one piece, with many not showing up at all. This method of communication provided a natural barrier to developing any sort of relationship between the school and the home, while the alternative face-to-face meetings are a logistical nightmare to arrange.
The good news is that it has never been easier to improve communication with parents. Technology can play a key role in bridging the gap. Contact can now be established with parents, irrespective of location – so parents living apart, traveling or even parents living abroad, can be kept up to date with their child’s progress or achievements.
Our application, Sharek, meaning ‘to participate, share or collaborate’ in Arabic, is the region’s first learning application, dedicated to transforming the communication loop between teachers, students and parents. It gives families an immediate and personalised window into their child’s school day, which is much more effective and efficient for teachers than the traditional paper-based parent communication. Parents can participate in their children’s learning by browsing the virtual classroom wall, flicking through their child’s digital workbooks and communicating more effectively with the class teacher; this is all possible by using the application on their phones.
Sharek’s immediate, visual updates are designed to give busy parents an opportunity to provide ongoing encouragement. Teachers can quickly send announcements to all families or students right from within the app, so every parent feels included in their child’s education and classroom community. It allows students to share their learning by adding text, photos and videos to their own digital workbooks, which teachers provide feedback in and parents view at home or on the go. Teachers can also instantly share photos, videos and achievements seamlessly on the class wall to showcase the learning that has been taking place in the classroom each day.
Full visibility of a child’s interests, strengths and commitments – as well as information about school events and developments – put parents in a stronger position to help their child’s learning, and ensure children get the most out of the education system. With all of the improvements in communication occurring in the rest of the world around us, parents quite rightly don’t just want blanket whole-school emails or letters; parents want to know that their child matters and is therefore more interested in personalised communications that are directly related to their own children.
The benefits of this approach are wide-ranging. Communicating on matters relating to homework and passing on details of achievements and rewards can generate positive relationships between home and school and helps combat the negative image of schools contacting parents only when things go wrong. Sharing information regularly about a child’s progress enables parents to develop a clearer appreciation of their child’s true strengths and weaknesses, while an open communication channel will mean parents can be notified early on should their child be experiencing difficulties or problems. Ultimately, allowing parents to monitor and take part in their child’s education means they can reinforce the standards set by the school, helping raise standards of overall attainment.
Parent co-operation and support can make a real difference to how children see themselves as learners and engage in learning. Regular communication about the child’s individual development and achievements is a key component of successful partnership work, and an area in which schools can either enhance their reputation or leave themselves open to criticism. Schools have the opportunity to build great parent relationships by engaging families in the learning process from the very beginning.
To register your interest or try out the Sharek app, click on this link and enter your details. We’d love to help improve communication with parents in your school.