Do Parents Know What Their Kids Are Learning In School?

Earlier today, I read this blog post by Will Richardson that really got me thinking. His post talks about parents not knowing what their children are learning in school, and it goes on to discuss why this might be the case and how this is likely to continue to be a reality. This evening I wonder: how widespread a problem is this? I think that I work hard at trying to make the opposite true, and that I’m not alone in ensuring that parents DO know what their kids are learning in school.

Every night, my partner and I publish a blog post that highlights what the children have done all day, what they’ve learned (connected to the curriculum expectations), and how parents can extend this learning at home. We tweet and Instagram photographs and videos all day long, including mini-learning stories, that we feature in our daily blog post. Some might argue that this only happens because our students are in Kindergarten, but even when I taught Grades 5 and 6, I used Storify and captured and shared our daily learning through a class blog.

From Kindergarten to Grade 6 and at various schools, I’ve used this same blog approach to engage parents, and over the years, I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from them. I really think that parents want to help their children, and by knowing what’s happening in the classroom and having some prompts for extending this learning at home (a special “thank you” to Aaron Puley, who taught me the importance of doing this), students benefit. As Aaron also reminded me, we need to view parent engagement through an “equity lens.” This is why I also call parents — regardless of grade — regularly to connect with them, as it’s through these phone conversations that we also have learning discussions. For some parents, this works better than the digital option. For others, the opposite is true. Choice matters — for parents and for kids!

While I’m talking here about my own experiences, I also know that I’m not the only teacher connecting with parents in these different ways. I see lots of class blogs through our Board’s blogging platform, and I see and hear the stories of the phone conversations and face-to-face discussions with parents about classroom learning. Educators are inviting parents into classrooms, and parents and children are learning together. The home/school connection is only further reinforced through the Full-Day Early Learning Kindergarten Program Document, and as the underlying philosophy in this document (and the new one) spreads, I see the potential for even greater home/school relationships and co-learning in other grades. 

While I feel as though I have a more optimistic view of the home/school “learning connection” than the one highlighted in Will’s post, I’m left wondering …

  • Am I missing something here?
  • Is my sample size too small? 
  • What else could we do as individuals, as a Board, and even as a system, to change the situation outlined in Will’s post?

While I’d like to think that parents already have an idea of what kids are learning in school, I’d also hope that they want to know and that educators want them to know. Is this just my Utopian ideal or is it an achievable goal? What’s your perspective?


6 thoughts on “Do Parents Know What Their Kids Are Learning In School?

  1. Hello Aviva,
    Home-school communication is important. Trying different ways to get school messages to the parents is helpful for sure. What I have learned as an intermediate division teacher is that students need regular reminders and some motivation to get the classroom/school messages home. For example, two days ago I checked my dashboard and noticed that I had 2 visitors on my blog post (probably my teaching partner and myself). Then, the next day I reminded my class again (too many times now to count) that my blog has very important class information e.g. weekly reminders, homework etc. and ‘Bingo’ I had 20 visitors-happy teacher again.

    • Thanks for the comment, David, and for sharing your experiences. Have you ever tried an email widget on your blog before? Then parents can sign-up to get email notifications any time there’s a new post. This could help with having them check the blog regularly. What kind of learning do you share on your blog? As I was re-reading Will’s post last night, I wondered if sometimes we share general information, but not enough details. I wonder what kinds of details parents would like to hear and what kinds might benefit students the most. Maybe we need to survey parents to find out. Thoughts?


  2. Hi Aviva,
    For the last two years I have sent out an intensive email every week. I include what we have learned and what is to come. I highlight character education, school events as well as academics. I explain concepts as well such as inferring and include information about math concepts such as fractions. It takes me about two hours to complete one newsletter because I also search out links that students could use to practise what we have learned in class. Given all this work I wondered this week if parents found it useful. Tonight at open house no fewer than five parents mentioned how much they like my newsletters! It is all worth the extra time and communication to establish good partnerships with parents. You have also found that out. Keep up the good work Aviva!

    • Thanks for your comment, Carla! It sounds like your emails are very detailed and parents really appreciate them. That’s fantastic! It’s always great to hear positive feedback. Your comment makes me think of a teacher in our Board that surveys parents about communication to find out what they like and what they might like to see changed. Reading Will’s parent perspective makes me wonder if a survey might help (I’m speaking now in general, not in your specific situation). Thoughts?


      • A survey at the beginning of the year is always helpful. I send a survey to parents and now you have me thinking that I could ask more about communication too. I am careful though to include everyone by sending paper copies to this who do not have access to email. I have a separate account specifically for parents separate from my board email because the latter would fill up too quickly!

        • Thanks Carla! Will’s post is getting me to think about how I could word survey questions to get more to types of preferred communication and information that parents would like communicated. Having a paper survey option, in addition to an electronic one, is a great idea, as we have to again be careful that we’re getting to all parents. Thanks for also sharing about your email account for parents. Our Board email has lots of space, so I use this option for parent communication, and usually use links to highlight information on our class blog. It’s interesting to read and hear about the different ways that educators make learning visible for parents.


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