Key Takeaway: Family engagement allows teachers to better understand and support their students. As a result, building positive, cooperative relationships between home and school environments is key to a child’s success, regardless of grade level. —Taryn McBrayne

In this article, authors Alanzi and Eddy (University of North Texas) provide a detailed review of Lepkowska and Nightingale’s (2019) book Meet the Parents: How Schools Can Work Effectively with Families to Support Children’s Learning. As part of the review, Alanzi and Eddy discuss all 9 chapters, highlighting credible strategies from the book that seek to help teachers and school leaders foster positive relationships between home and school environments. 

Here are some key takeaways from the book: 

  1. Dealing with Loss – The authors (Lepkowska and Nightingale) suggest that teachers should work with both their students and their families during bereavement in order to support the child as they work through their loss. More specifically, “The authors argue that we [teachers] need to be more direct with students in addressing situations of bereavement; for example, we should use the words ‘dead’ and ‘died’ with children rather than ‘passed away.’ “
  1. Digital Citizenship/Safety – As summarized by Alanzi and Eddy, “The research found that the presumption that educated parents would be more adept in the online world was inaccurate.” For this reason, arguments for digital safety are made throughout the book. Alanzi and Eddy suggest digital safety be implemented in all school curriculums and for school leaders to engage parents in conversations about digital safety and personal information protection.
  1. Students’ Aspirations – The book argues that “close tracking of children’s progress and focusing on social skills and reasons for absences are ways to support higher achievement in students.” Therefore, communication with families is crucial to understanding a child’s learning progress. 
  1. Parent Meetings – The authors of the book highlight the value of partnership. Put simply, parent-teacher conferences and additional meetings should not be limited to teachers’ reports of student progress but should involve the family in discussions about the child’s learning as well. 
  1. Inclusion – The importance of parental cooperation in the protection of children is addressed, reinforcing that “the topic of threats to students’ emotional and physical wellbeing (ex: bullying, prejudice, etc.) can be difficult to broach with parents, but parents’ cooperation is crucial to protect children.”
  1. Supporting Special Education Students – In order to implement “best strategies and approaches to support [students] in achieving higher levels of attainment,” teacher and family cooperation is paramount. 

Additional chapters highlighted in the article include the development of new schools in the community and the appropriate use of media. 

Ultimately, Alanzi and Eddy’s review concludes that Lepkowska and Nightingale’s book is particularly useful not only for parents, teachers, and school leaders but also for anyone wishing to better support and understand students. However, the authors note that strategies surrounding medical health safety could be a useful addition to the book given the growing need for mental and social health support amongst today’s youth. 

Summarized Article:

Alanazi, F. & Eddy, C.M.  (2021). Meet the Parents: How Schools Can Work Effectively with Families to Support Children’s Learning, British Journal of Educational Studies, Vol. 69 (1), 119-121, DOI: 10.1080/00071005.2020.1810478

Summary by: Taryn McBrayne – Taryn believes in the power of student voice and, through the MARIO Framework, strives to create more opportunities for both educators and students to regularly make use of this power.

Additional Reference:

  1. Lepkowska, D. and Nightingale, J. (2019) Meet the Parents: How Schools Can Work Effectively with Families to Support Children’s Learning (Routledge). 

Key Takeaway: Findings suggest that perceived social support predicts emotional/behavioral problems in children with ASD mainly through its influence on parental resilience and parental self-efficacy. As such, developing parents’ psychosocial characteristics through the provision of resources and support, targeted parent education, and relationship-building between parents and professionals is critical to promoting the development of children with ASD. —Ashley Parnell

In this study, Lu, Chen, He, Pand, & Zou examined mechanisms underlying the association between parents’ perceived social support and children’s emotional/behavioral problems, focusing specifically on the role played by parental resilience and parent self-efficacy.

“Emotional/behavioral problems are more common in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) than in typical children, with estimates of prevalence ranging from 35.8% to 94.3%.” Given the association between parental stress and children’s emotional/behavioral problems, parents of children with ASD need and benefit from increased perceived social support. Social support was defined as “material, emotional, and informational help a person experiences from his/her network as compared to the parents of typical children.”

Studies have shown that “parents with more social support have greater resilience, parenting self-efficacy, and can improve the emotional and behavior of their children with ASD.” However, studies investigating the relationships between these psychosocial characteristics are limited.

In this particular study, 289 parents of children with ASD completed a survey comprising the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, Resilience Scale, Parenting Sense of Competence Scale, and Difficulties Questionnaire. Results indicated that “parents’ perceived social support was significantly related to the emotional/behavior problems in children with ASD and that this relationship was mediated by a series of associations between parental resilience and parent self-efficacy, among which higher resilience is associated with higher self-efficacy.” Analysis indicates that perceived social support predicts emotional/behavioral problems in children with ASD mainly through its influence on parental resilience and parental self-efficacy.

In other words the association between perceived social support and emotional/behavioral problems is greater when parental resilience and parental self-efficacy are taken into account. Additionally, parental resilience and parents’ self-efficacy were found to play a chain-mediating role in the relationship between parents’ perceived social support and emotional/behavioral problems in children with ASD.

Findings indicate that “it is crucial to improve parents’ perceived social support, parental resilience, and parents’ self-efficacy to reduce emotional/behavioral problems in children with ASD.”

To best promote the development of children with ASD, we must: 

  1. Ensure accessibility to various types of support for parents.
  2. Help parents form relationships with professionals.
  3. Proactively attend to the education of parents.

Specifically, Das et al. states, “social organizations should establish social support networks and professional centers (e.g., at school, children’s centers, mobile clinics, etc.) to give parents different types of support (e.g., remote medical treatment, community health workers, specialist education teachers and psychologists).”1 Focus should also be placed on the education of parents, ensuring that parents are equipped with strategies, knowledge, and techniques that enable them to better address the needs of the children with ASD.

Summarized Article:

Lu, M., Chen, J., He, W., Pang, F., & Zou, Y. (2021). Association between perceived social support of parents and emotional/behavioral problems in children with ASD: A chain mediation model. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 113, 103933

Summary by: Ashley M. Parnell — Ashley strives to apply the MARIO Framework to build evidence-based learning environments that support student engagement, empowerment, and passion and is working with a team of educators to grow and share this framework with other educators.

Additional References

  1. Das, S., Das, B., Nath, K., Dutta, A., Bora, P., & Hazarika, M. (2017). Impact of stress, coping, social support, and resilience of families having children with autism: A North East India-based study. Asian journal of psychiatry, 28, 133-139.