In Thursday’s newsbrief we  highlighted the Family Engagement Strategy. The ultimate intent of the strategy is to build the capacity of our students to be better anytime, anywhere learners.

Our Family Engagement Strategy is  focused on valuing  the knowledge and skills that parents (siblings, grandparents) already have and then building on them in partnership with the school. The aim is to have a powerful team approach to student learning improvement.

We wish to stretch the learning of all students.  For many that means moving from good to great.  For many  students the move from good academic results to even better is limited by poorly developed personal and social capabilities. 

We know there is much new learning for staff, students and families as we seek to better understand how to develop some things that we once thought would  simply improve with time.

For example, much of our team work  on personal and social development  should be about developing executive function; the brain’s air traffic control system. This involves:

  • developing working memory … keeping track of things, following instructions, remembering rules
  • inhibiting impulsive behaviour… resting temptations and distractions, thinking before acting
  • developing mental flexibility… switching thinking according to the circumstances, learning from mistakes, being resilient

We  know that school is a social learning environment  and that  understanding and managing relationships is essential.  See the Australian Curriculum Personal-and-social-capability.  See Play is the Way.

Research suggests that how we view ourselves as learners makes a significant difference to our ability to learn.  Carol Dweck talks about  the importance of developing growth mindsets. Here’s an example of her thinking:

A school community working together has a  much greater capacity to  take students to the next level than teachers in classrooms  working independently of parents.  It would be very powerful if there was greater synergy between what is worked on at home and what happens at school.

Our Family Engagement Strategy is not just about working  together to build our collective understanding of how to develop growth mindsets and develop executive function; it’s also about to working together to grow deeper understandings of how school programs and strategies may be used.

We believe that better family engagement in each child’s  learning is also about helping families feel connected and able to network within our school community; enabling opportunities to socialise as well learn together.

Already through discussion amongst Parent Network members there are a range of areas that we could work on together to create learning / sharing opportunities for families:

  • – information for families of senior students: high school info, dealing with young adolescents
  • – healthy eating options, food labelling
  • – use of digital technology, suggested apps
  • – bullying, cyber bullying, child protection
  • – manners, respect, healthy relationships
  • – growth & development, body image, safety
  • – play is the way
  • – jolly phonics
  • – canteen – understanding Right Bite, photos of what’s available, that food is homemade
  • – kitchen garden program – recipes, tips for kitchen garden at home
  • – monthly family engagement “meet-ups”/social events

We know these (and more), as well as the growth mindsets / executive function  work, may be  best developed through a mix of:

  • workshops, courses, and information sessions;
  • “open” sessions involving students;
  • development of on line resources and networking

Most  importantly we know that the more activated our staff, students, and parents are to helping each other learn, the greater the benefit for all.

This is a major focus of our Learning Improvement Plan  and  therefore will be a major focus for Governing Council, Parent Network and other committees.

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