Partnership is a much more complex endeavour than merely involvement or participation: it is mutually determined and has benefits for all partners – students, whanau and teachers. The sphere of influence is two-way: schools can recognise and celebrate each child’s individuality and welcome all families, while helping families to recognise their children as students and to reinforce the importance of homework and activities that build students’ thinking and skills.
Home-school partnerships are widely promoted for the positive impact they can have on students’ motivation, engagement, behaviour, and academic and social outcomes. A comprehensive meta-analysis comparing a wide range of educational interventions found that parent involvement had a larger effect on student academic achievement than most other interventions. However, the benefits of parent involvement in one school subject or area are also found to be confined to that area, that is, parent involvement in reading improves students’ reading attainment but not their attainment in mathematics.
While research has found correlation between parental involvement in school activities and improved outcomes for students, it is unable to establish a clear causative relationship, primarily because both school and home contexts are complex and there are a myriad of factors involved that impact on student achievement. It is also important to acknowledge that parental involvement and home-school partnerships are not conceptually the same, because parental involvement does not imply either participation in or partnership with schools.
A home-school partnership involves genuine collaboration and coordination between families and schools on key issues relevant to both the school’s and the family’s goals for their children’s education, and involves two-way systems of support that cross both home and school settings. This includes:
teachers finding opportunities for students and/or families to share knowledge and skills gained through home and family experiences
teachers using students’ home experiences to devise meaningful and relevant learning activities
schools providing resources such as books that are identified as important by particular groups of families
schools supporting parents to engage with their children’s learning
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