How might we better involve parents in inquiry? #pypinnovation

One of the challengeIMG_0036s in transforming learning in schools is taking our parental community with us on the journey. Parent experience of school  can be a strong influence on how they view learning.

In order to overcome this challenge, schools give information evenings, have student-led conferences and showcase learning at mini-exhibitions.

Traditionally we’ve waited until the end of the unit for children to showcase learning at mini-exbibtions. The children love the oppourtunity to share what they’ve been learing about in school with their parents and the parents love hearing about the children’s experiences and seeing learning artefacts. The problem with the showcase approach is parents are passive recpients of a child’s learning journey rather than taking an active role in the process.

How might we better involve parents in the process of inquiry?

This unit  my class are exploring ‘Markets connect people with products’ with a focus on students developing businesses.  Instead of waiting until the end of unit market day for the parents to come in, we invited parents in halfway through a unit of inquiry for the children to pitch a business idea to their parental investors.

There were several advantages to moving up the mini-exhibition to half way through the a unit of inquiry

  1. The children get a chance to tap into the expertise – there are many businesspeople in our parent community who offer that insight into how the real world of business works.
  2. Less pressure on the kids as there is no need for perfect artefacts of learning to showcase.
  3. The adults get an authentic oppourtunitiy to offer detailed, personalised feedback.
  4. The children get a chance to act on detailed, personalised feedback.
  5. Home learning is highly relevant as the parents work with the children to take action on their discussion.

The quality of the interactions with the children and parents was tremendous – with more of a focus on ‘where to from here?’ as families developed plans and offered recommendations to help the children to make their businesses a success. We also had several parents offer up their expertise over the comming few weeks as mentors as the children prepare for a market day.

If schools want parents to better understand inquiry learning, then we need to provide authentic opportunities for parents to be involved in the learning process.

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