A student’s success and well-being are not always determined by how intelligent they are and how many resources they have at their disposal. Other factors such as peer influence, their teachers’ skills, their curriculums, and their self-motivation often play a role in their academic performance. Not least among these factors is the parental support students receive at home.
Schools that find it important to evaluate and formulate effective learning strategies for their students rightfully acknowledge the role of family engagement. That’s why most programs for high school in Singapore for international students and local students provide some form of family engagement program on their campuses.
What Are Family Engagement Programs?
The exact name of the program may be different from school to school, but a family engagement program essentially pertains to building strong partnerships between schools and students’ families with the ultimate goal of building up a student and ensuring their success and well-being.
To be clear, family engagement is different from typical parent involvement, which can sometimes be one-sided. In family engagement, there’s genuine collaboration between stakeholders in a student’s education, which often leads to authentic and positive relationships between the student’s parents and their teachers. This partnership facilitates more open and honest communication so that parties can immediately address any issues that the student may have.
Engagement is meant to go beyond impersonal parent-teacher association or PTA meetings and the occasional bake sale that requires parent involvement. While PTA meetings are still part of family engagement programs, parents and educators are encouraged to have deeper one-on-one conversations instead of just having a general group discussion about students from time to time. During the activities of an engagement program, parents and teachers may talk about topics as mundane as upcoming school activities, but may also tackle more difficult subjects such as a student’s change in behavior or conflict with peers.
With high school students facing a competitive environment, especially in a country like Singapore, issues such as burnout, depression, peer pressure, and anxiety about college are quite common. Having a program to support the family can help the student on all fronts. With everyone working together, the student will have confidence in their support system knowing that everyone that they care about is rooting for them to succeed.
The Value of Family Engagement Programs in High Schools
There are other reasons for why family engagement programs are vital to a student’s success. Here are a few more that students, parents, and teachers can expect:
1) Family Engagement Programs Foster Positive Relationships between Parents and Teachers
One of the best things about a family engagement program is that it affords parents a chance to get to know their children’s teachers on a deeper level. As mentioned above, formal discussions during family engagement programs make talking about difficult subjects so much easier. When there’s mutual respect and trust between teachers and the students’ families, issues can be tackled head-on with minimal awkwardness and beating around the bush.
For instance, if a student is suddenly underperforming, a teacher can immediately consult with their parents to talk about issues they may have at home that are affecting their school performance. An interaction like this communicates trust and a mutual willingness to see the student’s condition improve.
2) Family Engagement Programs Empower Families
Involving parents in decisions that may affect their children can make parents feel valued and heard. This can encourage them to participate in discussions and to even help other students’ parents, knowing that their voice matters. In the past, parents were typically given notice of activities that their children would be participating, and nothing more. In a family engagement program, however, they can be a part of the decision-making process for their children’s school activities beforehand and have their concerns factored into their children’s education.
Ultimately, family engagement programs allow parents to be more proactive about their child’s schooling. They’ll be more likely to ask questions about their child’s behavior or performance for better awareness of the learning experience, all while being able to express valid concerns and give useful feedback to teachers.
3) Family Engagement Programs Encourage Collaborative Problem Solving
When parents are properly engaged with their child and their child’s educators, there’s a lower likelihood of issues escalating because they can be resolved immediately with cooperation from parents and educators. One important example is the issue of bullying. In some cases, severe bullying can push a child to commit the unthinkable. But with early intervention, this can be avoided and corrected.
4) Family Engagement Programs Drive Data-Based Improvements
In most schools with a formalized family engagement strategy, surveys are regularly conducted to let the parents have their say on policy changes, program effectiveness, and the school’s overall performance. These surveys are vital in keeping schools informed about parents’ general perspectives. School administrations can also use the data from the surveys to enact changes that will enhance the school’s services and policies if needed.
5) Family Engagement Programs Provide Multidimensional Support
When a child needs additional support, parents can collaborate with teachers in order to know how they can effectively help their child. As a parent and your child’s biggest advocate, you should be able to understand the situation and formulate a sensible plan to address whatever problems your child may be having in school. While this involves investing more time to go to the school to meet with teachers, it will all be worth it in the end. When your child finds their footing and is back on track in terms of their well-being, as well as academic performance, you will be thankful you contributed to their multidimensional support system.
Family engagement strategies should be implemented in every school. With parents and teachers in sync about a student’s welfare and performance, there’s almost no reason why a student shouldn’t succeed. The high-level of collaboration family engagement brings is key to resolving issues quickly and effectively. And with the parents’ inputs taken into serious consideration by the school, improvements that are essential to students’ welfare can be implemented right away with minimal conflict.
If you’re considering a school for your child, it may be smart to take a look at their family engagement program. Choosing a school with an active family engagement program may benefit not only your child, but your entire family.