As parents, we want our children to feel connected, included and accepted at school, and intuitively recognise that this is likely to make them feel happier. Indeed, there is an abundance of research highlighting the importance of a student’s sense of belonging and connection to their school environment. School belonging has been linked with a myriad of positive psychological and physical outcomes, in addition to better school performance (Allen et al., 2020; Furlong et al., 2011, Nutbrown & Clough, 2009).
Parent support is an important factor underpinning a student’s sense of belonging at school (Allen et al., 2018). Parents can provide a safe, stable, and nurturing base at home as their children navigate the challenges of adolescence and peer relationships. Moreover, students are more likely to feel connected to their school when parents demonstrate that they are supportive of, and value, education and learning (Allen et al., 2018).
- Try to model the value and importance of education and learning. Talk to your child about what they are learning at school, and why this might be important, helpful and/or valuable.
- Provide opportunities for your child to talk about any challenges at school, including with peers.
- Reinforce to your child that they are capable and can master their goals.
- If your child is struggling with a particular topic, validate this difficulty and help to reframe this as a challenge to learn.
- Try to highlight your child’s strengths, particularly when you see them in-use (strength-spotting; “I noticed that you kept going with that assignment even though it was difficult, that showed great perseverance”).