Parents urged to 'take the lead' on their children's education

Parents urged to

More than 50 years of research confirms students have higher academic outcomes and improved attendance, behaviour, confidence and motivation when their parents are not simply ‘involved in their school’ but are actively “engaged in supporting their learning.

As pointed out by Dr Amy Graham, an education expert at UNSW with a strong interest in education psychology, policy, and transitions to school, parents are a child’s first, and most influential, teachers.

“Parents teach young children all about the world when they are young, and this does not stop once children enter the school gate,” Dr Graham said.

Indeed, many schools across Australia have been exploring ways to help parents take a more active role in their kids’ learning in recent years, especially as the youth mental health crisis and worsening teacher shortages converge.

However, Cheryl Lacey, a Melbourne-based parent, educationist, and author, believes parents have “lost their rightful place in their children's education” and that many are confused about what they can do about it.

Lacey has been an agitator for change in Australian education and a highly regarded speaker who writes and advises on the relationship between families and schools. In her new book ‘Your Children: Take the Lead on Their Education’, she proposes a solution.

The crux of her message is that parents must be firmly at the center of all decision-making related to their children's school education. She notes that Australia’s 7 million families with children of school age is “a powerful force with the capacity to bring about change”.

“Parents must support each other and work together, through parent groups and through School Boards, to have schools focus on ‘first principles’ – fundamental truths about the world – which should be at the heart of school education,” Lacey said, adding that her book shows how this can be done.

“I take parents through a three-step process. Understanding the problems; gaining agreement and support to address them; and building unity and strategies to rectify them.”

Lacey said she is confident that “starting small, with local innovation can be the beginning of national change.”

“Your children are extremely vulnerable in the early part of their lives, and your family's relationship with schools and teachers is crucial. Your children are yours for life, and your role as a parent is supremely vital,” she said.

“You can be the voice for change; you can make a difference by taking the lead in your children's education.”