By Mathilda Joubert, Education Consultant
I remember my mixed emotions when each of my two children started school: excitement for them to start such a wonderful new journey of learning and discovery, tinged with a bit of sadness that I would now have to share them with their teachers. Yet as the years progress it can be easy for us as parents to breathe a sigh of relief at the end of a long summer holiday and secretly think: “Thank goodness, now I can have a rest, or get back to work as I hand them over to the professionals again to take over.” It turns out that we cannot get off the hook that easily. The African proverb is true; it does take a village to raise a child – and when parents are deeply engaged with their children’s learning and schooling, everyone benefits.
There is a strong body of research evidence that shows that parent engagement improves student academic outcomes. It can advance their learning by as much as 2 – 3 years  and the impact on academic outcomes can be twice as high as that of socio-economic background . The level of parent engagement in schooling also has a strong impact beyond academic benefits: research has demonstrated positive impact on children’s self-esteem, confidence, behaviour and motivation towards school, it improves their social skills, they develop more positive attitudes to learning, they show higher aspirations later in life and higher involvement in post-school academic studies, e.g. College or University .
Parental engagement in schooling holds benefits for children of all ages, even though the style of engagement may look different depending on the age of the child and work or other commitments of parents. Here are some ideas you may want to try or reinforce this year:
Of course, the children are not the only ones benefiting from greater home-school collaboration: teachers, the school and parents themselves also benefit as they build a community of learning together. How will you get involved this year? It really does take a village to raise a child.
 Hattie (2008)
 Michigan Department of Education (2014)
 Henderson & Berla (1994)
 Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (2002)