As the new school year continues to advance, so will students’ interaction with technology in the classroom. While school leaders are working hard to make sure that teachers and students are ready to engage with new technology, they also need to make sure that another stakeholder is just as informed: parents.
At a recent panel, Keri Randolph, the director of innovation for the Hamilton County (Tenn.) Department of Education, said that while a lot of experts would agree parent engagement is important for student engagement, few are considering parents when moving forward with digital innovation plans, EdSurge reports.
Randolph’s district, which serves many lower-income students, has done a lot to address digital equity issues — like helping to discount internet around the city and providing students at high-poverty schools with free devices. But, as EdSurge reports, the district just recently focused on outreach with parents regarding technology.
“We are not good at that yet,” says Randolph in the article. “We included money [for community outreach] in the pilot budget. We didn’t at first. We didn’t recognize the need, but now we do.”
Keep Parents Informed to Boost Student Opportunities
While low-income communities are often the most affected by the homework gap and digital divide, a recent survey found that about 80 percent of lower-income parents think that classroom tech will improve their child’s education.
Though these parents believe that technology can help their children learn important new skills, the majority of them still worry about the amount of time their children spend on technology and the content they’ll find there.
In a recent episode of NPR’s Generation Listen, parents discussed striking a balance between leveraging tech for learning experiences and preventing kids from becoming addicted to their phones.
Part of these concerns regarding tech usage can be assuaged if parents are kept in the loop about their children’s use of digital tools to learn.
“We taught our parents to use the [parent] portal because we know when parents are engaged, kids are as well,” says Deb Socia, the executive director of Next Century Cities, in the EdSurge article.
Socia also says in lower-income communities it’s important for parents to see that their children have a role in science, technology, engineering and math regardless of their background. It’s the role of the school to make sure that parents know they are trying to equip their students with skills to succeed in the world.
“Schools doing good work help families understand three things; what are the key skills their children are going to be learning every year; how is their child performing on those key skills; and what can parents do to support their children develop the skills,” says Vidya Sundaram, the CEO of Family Engagement Lab, in the article.