What we know
Engaging parents in their children’s education improves the children’s educational attainment and ongoing engagement in education.
A family’s level of ‘social capital’ and socio-economic position affects how they engage with their children’s school.
Risk factors associated with poor parental engagement include:
- family problems such as poverty, poor parental education, unemployment and poor job prospects
- parental problems such as poor physical health, substance misuse or family violence
- community and socio-economic problems such as racial prejudice, poor housing or study facilities at home, and fewer models of educational success in a formal school environment.
The values fostered by schools are not always consistent with the values that are important to Indigenous children, their parents and their communities.
These risk factors are present in many Indigenous families and communities, so Indigenous parents need more resources to overcome barriers to engaging with their children’s education.
Examples of programs that directly or indirectly support Indigenous parents’ involvement in their children’s education include: Aboriginal Parental Engagement Program, FASTTM, the Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters, Indigenous Parent Factor, Let’s Start, Play and Learn, and Parents/Families as First Teachers, Parents and Learning, Reading Discovery, and the Yachad Accelerated Learning Project.
Successful programs tend to include the following principles in their design:
- they create a school environment that is culturally welcoming and inviting for Indigenous parents
- they empower parents to support their children’s learning
- they actively include parents in the children’s programs
- they provide opportunities for parents to meet with and support each other
- they involve the community and coordinate with relevant partner agencies.
What doesn’t work
In the literature reviewed for this paper, no evaluations of programs designed to improve parental engagement were found to be ineffective.
What we don’t know
There are few evaluations of programs that have been designed specifically to enhance Indigenous parents’ engagement in their children’s education.
Many evaluations point only to short-term outcomes, therefore it is not known whether improving parental engagement leads to sustained improvements in educational outcomes for children and young people.
Australian data on parental educational engagement
What does parental engagement mean?
Evaluations of programs to support Indigenous parents’ engagement in their children’s education
Supporting Indigenous parents’ engagement in their children’s education—key practices
- Creating a school environment that values and welcomes parents
- Empowering parents to support their children’s learning
- Actively including parents within programs directed at children
- Parents supporting other parents
- Involving community and coordinating with relevant agencies
Gaps in evidence
End matter: References; Acknowledgments; Abbreviations; Terminology; Funding; Suggested citation; Copyright