The Difference Parents Make

These materials were adapted from Parents as Partners in their Children’s Learning produced by The Scottish Government, Crown Copyright 2006.


What is Parental Involvement?

What does parental involvement in children's learning mean?

There are three main ways parents can get involved in supporting their children's learning:

  • Learning at home: Parents are the first and ongoing educators of their own children and, as such, should receive information and support to help develop their child's learning at home, in the community and at school.
  • Home-school partnership: Schools must be open to the involvement of parents in the work they do and they should consider ways of providing information that helps parents engage with school and their children's education.
  • Parental representation: Parents should have the opportunity to express their views and have these taken into account on policy matters affecting the education of their children. All parents are members of the Parent Advisory Council at their child's school.

The BC School Act recognises the vital role that parents play in supporting their children's learning by giving parents the right to belong to a parent advisory council in their school, and through it to advise the board, principal, and staff on any matter relating to the school. It aims to help parents to be:

  • Involved in their child's education and learning
  • Welcomed as an active participant in the life of the school
  • Encouraged to express their views on school education generally.

These partnerships help all children become:

  • Successful learners
  • Confident individuals
  • Responsible citizens
  • Effective contributors.

Benefits of Involvement

The benefits for the children are:

  • It is easier for children to learn when they get encouragement from home.
  • They will do better and achieve more when their parents are involved.
  • Children get access to more activities in and out of school when there are more adults to help.
  • Their concerns can be sorted out more quickly when their parents have a positive relationship with school staff.
  • They are happy when their parents are enjoying events in the school.

The benefits for parents are:

  • Their children do better when they are involved.
  • They are better able to help and encourage their children.
  • They have more information about their children's education.
  • Parents can build their own confidence and skills.
  • Where there is a positive relationship between parents and their child's school there are benefits all round.
  • Parents get reassurance that their children are receiving a good education.

The benefits for the school are:

  • Parents bring skills which complement teachers' skills and expertise.
  • Parents contribute their time, so together parents and teachers are able to do more activities with students than teachers can do on their own.
  • Students' achievement and behaviour improve.
  • Parents have ideas about how the school can best support the children.
  • Teachers have people with whom they can talk over ideas and get help when developing plans for the school.
  • Parents can give advice and help reach other parents.

The benefits for Administration are:

  • The ideas and experience of a wider pool of people lead to a better strategy which will support participation by more parents.
  • Administration gets information on how its policies and education provision are working out in practice.
  • Administration is able to discuss plans and ideas for education development with a wide range of parents.
  • Parents who are involved in other representative groups help make sure the education policies link in well with the other policies and provision for people living in that area.

Working Together

What helps parents, teachers and administration work together?

People can work together most easily when three factors are present.

  • Issues: People are working together on issues which they think are important.
  • Ways of working: The way they work together respects and values each person's contribution. It is realistic in terms of the time and effort it takes. The process welcomes and encourages people who have less experience or confidence.
  • Getting results: Working together gets results. People can see their effort has been worthwhile and that they have been listened to.

'When I started coming to the parents' meetings I was scared to speak. Now I'm not, and I'd like to be able to speak in public like the others.' A parent


PDF file: Checklist - questions to help identify and encourage healthy partnerships (27 KB)

Word file: Checklist - questions to help identify and encourage healthy partnerships (31 KB)


Examples from Schools

Example - parents supporting healthy eating

An elementary school involved parents in improving school meals. Parents tested school lunches and took an interest in the nutritional value of the meals, which led to the school meals service changing its menus. As the school meals improved more children chose to have them regularly.

With the help of a local trust fund and local gardening firm, a school garden was developed to grow fresh produce for use in school meals and for snacks.

Example - a school community collaborating on a safer school travel plan

Parents and staff of Cedar Hill Middle School worked in cooperation with Saanich Safer City to create a safer school travel plan. Through the program, priorities were defined and realistic solutions were created for addressing identified school road safety related issues.

Cedar Hill Middle School worked together with key community partners to achieve this goal. The solutions generated identify strategies from three key perspectives: Education, Enforcement and Engineering. The final plan identifies both short and long term goals within each focus.

Purpose of the Safer School Travel Plan:

  • Identify safety concerns for the student population, parents and school staff traveling to and from the school.
  • Collaborate with the municipality, school community, school district, police, ICBC, and other stakeholders to identify and implement changes to enhance safety of student travel.
  • Develop and include strategies for all modes of transportation and from the three key disciplines of Education, Enforcement and Engineering.
  • Increase support for safe pedestrian and bicycle travel and/or other vehicle reduction initiatives.