EEF Blog: How can we help parents support their children to learn from home?

EEF policy officer, Harry Madgwick, on addressing the challenges of home learning through parental engagement.

The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent moves to home learning have really brought the importance of parental engagement to the fore. As teachers, pupils and parents have collectively done their utmost to foster opportunities for learning within the limitations of available technology and other resources, the need for having strong connections between home and school has been magnified.

The EEF Toolkit has shown that under normal conditions of schooling, increasing parental engagement can help pupils make, on average, an additional 3 months’ academic progress within the space of one year. However, implementing changes to a school’s parental engagement strategy comes with complications, such as fitting around parents’ schedules, and developing effective relationships with families who may not have had a good experience of school themselves.

In other words, even during normal school circumstances, helping parents and carers best support their children’s learning is by no means simple. Those working in schools know that it takes careful and consistent communication over extended periods of time to build trusting and mutually respectful relationships between school and home. During partial school closures and remote learning, however, a whole range of additional challenges have presented themselves, often meaning parents have had to take on some of the responsibilities usually owned by teachers: in January, 98% of parents of primary aged pupils said that they were needed to supervise home-learning [1].

In response to these challenges, schools and teachers have done their best to maintain communication with families, as well as offering more directive guidance where appropriate. To support this work, the EEF have provided a range of resources that schools can give to parents to assist with home learning. These include some top tips for making best use of parent-child reading exchanges (see Making use of TRUST Talk), and practical advice on how to nurture positive routines that support effective learning (see Kirsten Mould’s contribution to Episode 2 of the EEF's podcast: Evidence into Action).

More recently, the EEF have begun working with survey app Parent Ping to conduct research that can better understand how remote learning is going for families, and to see if there is any connection between parental experiences of their child’s home education, and the strategies schools are employing to deliver remote provision.

The Big Lockdown Learning Parent Survey will be the first major study to match parental insights on home learning with teacher accounts of remote education. Recruitment for the survey began at the beginning of February, and the project will run until the national lockdown ends and most children have returned to schools.

For regular updates on the survey, start by reading Parent Ping’s weekly blog, which is already featuring preliminary findings from the project. More detailed findings will be made available on the EEF website from early March, and a final report is due to be published later in the year that will give a fuller insight into how parents have experienced the different approaches to remote teaching employed by schools and teachers.

[1] Parent Ping, (2021). Who’s bearing the brunt of home-learning?. Available at: [Accessed 11 February 2021].