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Engaging Parents

By Laree Taula

When an opportunity arose at the end of last year to send a submission to the Education and Science Select Committee’s 'Inquiry into how to work effectively with parents, families, whanau, aiga, and communities to contribute to their children’s education', I jumped at the chance.

The stated terms of reference for the inquiry were to investigate the elements of an effective strategy for engaging parents, families, whanau, aiga, and communities in education; to identify the best practice examples of approaches, locally and internationally, that support parents and communities to encourage their children’s learning; and to identify ways to leverage the strength of communities to lift the educational achievement of children and young people in their community.

The Early Childhood Council (ECC) was subsequently invited to give an oral presentation to the select committee on Thursday 12 March 2014. We took this opportunity to urge the select committee to think about the Partnering with Parent’s philosophy, the use of digital technology, and the community hub model.

Embedded into the Partnering with Parents philosophy is the belief that we need more confident parents, not ones who feel their experience or knowledge is inferior; that the family is the most important support group for the child and that the child learns best when their family and teachers work in partnership to support the child’s developmental learning. We gave some good examples of how digital technology can be used interactively and positively with parents, and the importance of a joined up community approach.

Questions from Members of Parliament at the end of the oral submission were positive but also included “What about those who do not have access to computers?” and “Will the use of digital technology take away the importance of face to face interaction and relationship building?”

What became increasingly clear to me is the importance of both embracing digital technology, but alongside a partnership model with parents. I immediately thought of Shine Porirua’s philosophy and the Digital Power Porirua initiative that underpins the need to provide children and young people with the digital tools to learn, function and achieve as digital citizens. And that when children have the digital tools they need to learn at school and at home, parents will be able to link more closely with schools and help children with their learning.

Like a piercing ray of light, it is exciting that Shine Porirua is already leading the way in how the collective efforts of a community can make a huge difference in raising the educational outcomes for children.

Through rain and shine, I am looking forward to seeing the fruits of Shine’s initiatives.

The full submission can be viewed here. ECC Submission to Education and Science Select Committee

A related article about the role of parents in their child's early education can be viewed here. Education Today Article PWP

Engaging Parents

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