Parent access to student data – Does it make “helicopter” parents worse or is it the best invention in recent times?
There are mixed feelings in the community about whether or not we should be checking up on every move our children make and this extends into online access to school information. There are so many different systems available and the level of information parents can access varies greatly from system to system.
The first thing to consider is how school life has changed over the decades. Back in the day, Mum didn’t juggle children and work. She was at the school helping out with reading, library, and canteen. She was even helping in the office on occasions. She was at home when the children got there after school or she was at the school, dropping off and picking up. Mum had ready access to teachers and information about the kids, and Dad worked and left the schooling up to Mum. These days many of us are busy working parents. Dads want to be more actively engaged too and the access to school and teachers has become increasingly difficult. It’s time to recognise the generational shift that has taken place – Gen Y are no longer at school – they are the parents and teachers of school age children. Expectations have changed. Parents no longer want to wait for information they are used to having it at their fingertips. It is time for school to catch up with this trend and allow parents to re-engage with their children.
Gen Y are no longer at school – they are the parents and teachers of school age children.
It’s broadly acknowledged that children perform better at school when their parents are actively engaged with them. Access to online, live information for “helicopter” parents may be problematic in a small proportion of cases, but generally speaking the impact can only improve parent engagement and overall student outcomes.
Rather than having to ask your student “do you have any homework?” to which the answer will almost always be “no”, wouldn’t it be great to be able to say “how are you going with your Geography assignment? Would you like any help?” or “I see you have no homework, how would you like to do something fun together?”
Early identification of issues is often the key to solving them and preventing a child from slipping through the cracks.
When an assessment task (whether an assignment or test) is complete and marked, parents should be able to access these results. Often between the student and teachers, it can be weeks before parents see any results. If there are problems, it’s often too late to fix them or help the child in any way. As parents, it’s our job to help our children in any way we can. Early identification of issues is often the key to solving them and preventing a child from slipping through the cracks.
Have you ever had a child away from school because they are representing the school in an event (athletics, swimming, drama, debating, music, etc.), only to get a message from the school saying “please contact the school, your child has been marked absent”? This has happened to me on a number of occasions when my children are representing their school at Zone, Regional and even State athletics events. It’s disheartening for all concerned – knowing that no-one at school is even aware of what they are doing. Kids work hard to get there and it’s nice to be recognised for that hard work. How much nicer would it be to get a message that said something like “good luck with your [event] today”. Suddenly it looks like the school is as engaged with your child as you are. They actually know where your child is and are proud of the efforts they are making. This can easily be achieved with the right online system that allows students to be attached to calendar events, thus preventing them from immediately being marked absent just because they are not on campus.
I am a strong believer that this type of technology will only serve to enhance the relationship between parent, student and school by allowing parents to monitor (not micromanage) their children. It will also greatly benefit schools by enabling them to quickly identify students at risk and support these children. It will encourage parents into more positive conversations with teachers, as they will all have access to the same information at the same time.
There are certainly two different views when it comes to viewing student information online and it does have the potential to polarise people. At the end of the day, we have to accept the fact that society (and the way we communicate) has changed and unless schools and parents keep up, it’s the children that will be left behind in the wake.