Children’s role in home-school relationships and the role of digital technologies


Children’s learning is not restricted to the time they spend in school; they learn in different ways in a wide range of different contexts, with friends and family at home and in other settings. Taking this more holistic view of children’s learning lives, it is clear that children do not leave the rest of their lives behind when they enter the school gate, and so to support children’s learning in the broadest sense, we need to take account of their lives and learning in and out of school.

Much research, strategy and policy on home-school relationships has focused on the relationship between parents and schools. This is particularly seen in the strong current focus on improving parental engagement in children’s learning, which is a significant factor in children’s educational achievement. Parents’ engagement in their children’s learning is clearly related to the relationship between home and school, and the connections and overlap between parental engagement and home-school relationships will be discussed. This review does not offer a full review of literature around parental engagement, which can be found elsewhere. Children themselves can and do play an active role in influencing and facilitating the nature and extent of this relationship and mediating between school and homecontexts. Their active role in this three-way relationship therefore needs to be acknowledged and explored.

Digital technologies are an integral part of many families’ home environments and communication strategies, and are increasingly used by schools to support learning, communicate with parents and provide access to school resources from the home and so may offer opportunities to facilitate communication and the building of relationships between home and school.

This review provides an overview of the key debates and current practice and research into home-school relationships, with a particular focus on children’s role and the opportunities offered by digital technologies to facilitate home-school relationships.

In order to explore children’s role in home-school relationships, the role of parents in home-school relationships will first be discussed, focusing on parental engagement and parent-school partnerships. The review will then move on from looking at parents relationships with schools to looking more broadly at connections between learning in the different contexts of home and school. It then goes on to explore how children themselves make transitions and connections between home and school, focusing on children’s agency in and perspective on this relationship. The use and potential of technologies to support the home-school relationship is discussed within these main sections.

This review is intended to serve as an introduction to the broader context of this topic, discussing key issues raised by research and practice, to inform professionals and practitioners with an interest in the field. Relationships between home and school have been the subject of many years’ research, and this review does not intend to provide a comprehensive academic analysis of the entire field, to make claims about the effectiveness’ of different approaches, or to provide recommendations for policymakers or practitioners.

Lyndsay Grant
Publication Date
Saturday, October 24, 2009