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Parental Involvement: How Parents can be Your Greatest Ally in Digital Learning

Discover how teachers can cultivate effective parental involvement to greatly improve the digital learning process.

“Many teachers are parents, but all parents are teachers.” Whether you find it corny or clever, this common idiom is actually deeper than you think. The wordplay touches on this key idea that parents and teachers are bound by the desire to see their children receive a quality education. School closures these last few weeks have confined students to their homes and education to the online classroom, so where teacher presence falls short, parents can become your greatest allies in ensuring continued learning. This article will illustrate how even with their jobs and household tasks, parents can be made a key part of a learning process that better facilitates digital learning. 

Digital Learning- Rated PG  

Digital learning is frequently referred to as distance learning, distance as in the student is far from the regular support and supervision offered by teachers during course completion. It revolves around the idea that students need to take responsibility for their own learning, but that is easier said than done. Students can be unwilling or unable to, and this marks a major limitation in the new normal of online education. So, to combat this, teachers can turn to parents to act as their bridge, providing the necessary guidance, aid and supervision that help students transition into becoming more independent learners able to receive a quality digital education. 

Several studies link increased parental involvement with improved academic performance, increased participation in extracurricular activities and reduced behavioral problems. In fact, it is reported to have even more of a correlation than family income and, most importantly, has been accredited with inculcating in children a positive outlook to learning. However, the major limitation to parental involvement is that parents have always struggled to allocate time away from things like work and towards formal parental involvement activities, like Parent Teacher Meetings. How many times have you had parents be unavailable to attend a PTM? Also, if not made aware of when and where to intercede in the learning process, parents could become a hindrance rather than a help. 

So how can teachers help parents overcome these hurdles and assist their children during the current situation and even after it ends? The key is building a virtual bridge between teachers and parents that should consist of three aspects: 

Scheduling

 Homework is not just a student problem anymore. Since the lockdown started we are all working from home, so it is important to consider that parents are still kept busy taking care of both job-related and household affairs. Therefore, by scheduling all assignments, zoom classes, syllabus portions etc. in the coming week or month, and making this schedule available to the parents, teachers ensure that parents can plan ahead and allocate time. For example, if a parent notes that an assignment deadline approaches in two weeks, they can start monitoring their child’s personal time management and progress in advance, rather than create last minute pressure. 

Several TechTools can make scheduling more efficient. Most online academic portals or school ERPs have built in calendars that can be used to schedule your online learning plans. Parents usually have a parent login ID and would be familiar with these sites thereby making them accessible and a viable scheduling option. However, in the interest of ease and accessibility, Google Calendar is a great option as it is specialised for easy scheduling and parents need nothing more than their regular email addresses to view a shared G-Calendar. Simple timetables for the week or task lists shared over message or email would also work just as well.           

Communication

The importance of communication between teachers and parents cannot be stressed enough. Providing guidance and information as well as listening to and addressing parent questions, concerns and suggestions is essential for cultivating parental involvement and will improve the asynchronous learning process. Teachers should remember to refrain from using pedagogical jargon that might confuse or exclude parents.

The TechTool you use to achieve effective communication depends on the type of communication channel you want to establish. For example, if you simply want to share information with the parents of a particular class then regular email will suffice. However, if you want to establish a direct dialogue in which you encourage parents to share feedback or pose questions then you would be better off making use of messaging applications like WhatsApp. When used for the quick and informal exchange of ideas and information, social media can actually be quite productive.

Online Resource Platform

Teachers need to be able to provide online resources to assist parents in multiple ways. For purely academic resources, parents should use the same online platform that the students are using, like a Google Classroom. This is because creating and maintaining another platform just for parents overcomplicates the learning process and risks the detrimental effects of App Overload that you can read about in this article.

However, there is much more to parental involvement than just academic supervision. By introducing physical education, social and emotional learning, creative expression and other progressive educational strategies to their child’s forced  “homeschooling”, parents can not only make learning more engaging for their children, but further their holistic development as a whole. WideOpenSchool.org is an online resource center that helps parents achieve this opportunity by helping them integrate the aforementioned strategies with academics in asynchronous learning. 

Source: Wide Open School

 

The need for this social distance, while unfortunate, presents a unique opportunity for teachers, parents and students to build an educational infrastructure that greatly improves the learning process and persists past the lockdown. There is also much to be said about how this type of parental involvement can go a long way into helping students cope with these trying times as well as improve relationships at home in the family.  


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