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