Getting parents more involved with schools

Housewife Abdoul Rahime Mahabouby started volunteering at East View Primary School as a "recess mum", helping lower primary pupils to get their meals during the break between lessons.

The 42-year-old, who has three children aged between nine and 13, became a parent volunteer in 2009 as she wanted to be more involved in her children's school lives.

Her older son, a Secondary 1 student at Montfort Secondary, was then a Primary 1 pupil at East View Primary. Her second son, 12, is now a Primary 6 pupil there.

Now, as chairman of the school's Parent Support Group, she organises programmes to engage parents. She said: "I wanted to know what is happening in the school, to interact with the teachers and pupils, and to learn along with my children."

She is also in the parent support groups at Montfort Secondary and St Hilda's Primary School, where her nine-year-old daughter is a Primary 3 pupil.

At the Ministry of Education's (MOE) work plan seminar yesterday, Education Minister Heng

Swee Keat highlighted the work of such volunteers, and also encouraged parents to be involved in their child's education and school lives.

Recognising that supportive parents can complement the teachers' efforts in helping students, Mr Heng unveiled several initiatives to strengthen the partnership between parents and the schools.

These include resources, from guidelines to planning materials, that teachers can use to engage parents more effectively. Schools will receive these in November.

For instance, a set of scenario-based role-playing cards, designed to help teachers better understand students' needs and parents' concerns, will be introduced.

There will also be resources for parents to tap to support their children's education journey.

Parents of children starting Primary 1 next year will get an activity book in November, to help their children make the transition from pre-school to primary school. It has tips and activities to help parents familiarise themselves with routines in primary schools, such as ordering canteen food.

For parents of children at the upper primary and lower secondary levels, MOE will enhance the Education and Career Guidance (ECG) guide to equip them with information on the education and career pathways available. The guide will be distributed from next month.

These resources will complement the work of ECG counsellors, who will work with teachers to engage parents.

The first 50 ECG counsellors will be deployed to schools, polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education by next month.

This article was first published on Sept 23, 2015.
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