Parent involvement in the learning journey
Chris Ivey / Parenting
Over the past couple of days, we have taken the initiative to welcome a small group
16 October 2020
From Our Principal Reverend Chris Ivey: Parent involvement in the learning journey
Over the past couple of days, we have taken the initiative to welcome a small group of Prep parents on campus each day to see their children’s classroom and enjoy a tour of their work. After the visit a number of staff and I have had the chance to catch up with each group of parents over a coffee. Given the unusual year we have experienced we are aware that for many parents in Prep they have had limited exposure to the wonderful work our staff do for each child in their first year of school, and the way in which they are building capacity into our students each and every day.
One of the common themes in our conversations with parents after they visited the classrooms was how capable and ‘independent’ the children were. As I have shared in a previous newsletter, what we have seen in these post COVID times with less parental input in the school environment, both within and outside the classroom is that our students have thrived. From the outset, I am absolutely not advocating for disengaging our parents from the College community, I am simply saying I think there is an ideal balance between over and under engagement and this year has given us an unexpected viewpoint of just how capable and competent children can be as they have all had to cope with the organisation involved with the beginning and end of their school day.
For me, parental engagement is about supporting events, getting to know other parents, it’s about asking interested questions of your children about how their learning journey is going, meeting with the teacher face-to-face is really important to discuss any issues, and (when allowed) parents are always a great help when they volunteer for reading, activities or other help in the classroom from time to time. These are essential elements that we look for in the partnership of educating your children. However, I think what we have always said here at St Andrew’s and what became more apparent during COVID-19 precautions is that most children are able to do far more than we actually allow them to do. Our youngest students have risen to the occasion beautifully with all the extra responsibility, from getting out of the car with their bag on their own in Prep, to unpacking homework, lunches and readers. Older Primary students have successfully been negotiating with their teacher/s about where they may need some assistance, purchased their own top up uniform replacements from the uniform shop, right through to working collaboratively with teachers both in class and on-line in the Senior years.
Importantly, the same message translates to sport. Our music students practice most mornings without any parent input; however, sport has always had plenty of parents watching training sessions. Naturally we parents want to watch a game or a performance, but the feedback from students is that sometimes they really like being more independent, especially at training and they don’t always need us around at every opportunity.
In the media we have had plenty of feedback about all the things that have been negative about this most unexpected year. Here at St Andrew’s we have found plenty of occasions to be grateful for the unpredicted, to see our students who are now more autonomous, more organised, and more willing to try new things without us as parents always needing to be there. They have built more internal motivation, and a confidence that wasn’t always there before. As we’ve always advocated, schools like ours, that offer so many opportunities are the safe place in which students can develop resilience, independence, can grow from challenging moments, experience consequences and learn to communicate and negotiate for themselves. Please trust that the College always has the best interest of every student at the fore. Obviously, no school is perfect and there are certainly times when we might need further support or information from home, it is a partnership and I will always encourage an open and respectful dialogue between the College and home. However, the bigger picture here is that less is probably the better choice when it comes to parents always wanting to see, do and be part of every aspect of a child’s journey through school.
As we plan to move to a more open environment next year, should all be well with the health restrictions of course, I am hoping to try to retain some of the lessons learnt in 2020. Reflect on what it is you see as appropriate engagement in your child’s learning journey. From our perspective, St Andrew’s staff certainly have, and this is why we are already implementing some more permanent changes to the ways we have adapted to this year. However, this aspect requires your support as well.
As always, I’m happy to engage in further conversations with parents about the way forward as we work together to provide the best possible environment for our students, your children, to thrive.
Rev Chris Ivey
November 11, 2021
Raising Respectful and Empathetic Young People - A School and Parent Partnership
March 05, 2021
Parent involvement in the learning journey
October 16, 2020