1.2.5 Parents give ‘background’ support to practitioners
Many parents take on an educating role by talking, playing and singing with their children. For many parents, their liaison with practitioners and other child-focused agencies is only a part of the educational experience they seek to provide for their children. In this way, parents can occasionally be seen by schools and settings as 'outreach assistants'. Sometimes, however, if parents don't appear to do what a setting asks of them, they can be seen as not getting involved in their children's education - a dubious conclusion given that parents are a child's first teachers. Recent governments have given active encouragement to a ‘background’ parental role at all stages of a child’s education, and have provided much in the way of ideas and resources for parents. The Parents section on the ‘Directgov’websiteinforms parents about education provision, the structure of the education system, the content of the Early Years Foundation Stage and the national curriculum, school tests, the latest government reforms, and how parents can best help their children in formal learning (Directgov, 2012).
Such government-led initiatives are significant in terms of helping parents to feel they can be involved in children's formal learning. The resources provided also enable parents to be less dependent on early years and school settings to provide information, ideas and encouragement.
The government has given active encouragement to this background role at all stages of a child's education, and has provided much in the way of ideas and resources for parents. The government's ‘Parents’ Gateway’ site (DfES, 2002) informs parents about education provision, the structure of the education system, the content of the Foundation Stage and the National Curriculum, school tests, the latest government reforms, and how parents can best help their children to learn.
Recently in Scotland, parents have been hearing about the ‘Home Reading Initiative’ (Scottish Executive, 2002). This includes:
- a leaflet for parents, which gives guidance to parents of children aged 0–8 on the benefits of home reading and offers details of recommended techniques to make reading a more valuable experience;
- an advertising campaign started in November 2002, which aims to raise the profile of home reading and encourage parents to become involved;
- the appointment of ‘reading champions’ to encourage parents, carers and children to develop skills in reading at home;
- a website with further information for parents and ideas on how to develop local projects to support home reading (launched early 2003);
- a small grants scheme, which will make £300,000 available to support small local projects such as book sharing clubs;
- a home-reading coordinator responsible for taking the initiative forward.
These government initiatives are very significant in terms of generating parental interest and supporting parental involvement in their children's learning and education. The resources enable parents to be less dependent on early years and school settings to provide this form of information and encouragement.