Teachers have long understood how parental engagement helps students perform better in school.
At the same time, families are often hungry for information about what is happening in their child’s classroom.
But even as schools work hard to encourage parent engagement, families have continued to feel disconnected from their child’s educational experience.
Schools are turning to technology for help. Increasingly, digital portfolio apps such as FreshGrade are being used to achieve a more satisfying and effective means of parent engagement than was previously possible.
What Do We Mean by Parental Engagement?
When families look for ways to be engaged with their child’s schooling, they often gravitate toward actions such as volunteering in the classroom or library, or raising money to support the school. These actions are clearly beneficial and should continue to be encouraged.
But both families and teachers were seeking ways for parents to be more closely engaged in the classroom experience of their child. The traditional methods of regular parent-teacher conferences, teacher-generated newsletters, handwritten notes, and phone calls home were still leaving many parents feeling disconnected from the classroom.
A more active level of collaboration between families and teachers was needed. Both parties have long been frustrated by their inability to achieve this kind of connection. Digital portfolios offer a possible solution.
Why is Parental Engagement Important?
If teachers and schools are doing a good job, why is there so much focus on parental engagement?
The number one reason is student performance. A National Education Association (NEA) policy brief notes that when parents, families, and communities work together with schools, it results in higher academic performance by students and improvement to the school. Children get better grades, go to school more regularly and stay in school longer.
When families are involved, studies have shown students also demonstrate improvements in behavior. They have better social skills, are more motivated in school, and behave better in the classroom.