Parents' interest 'vital' to child's education

Helping parents to gain the skills and knowledge to successfully engage in their child’s learning will make a big difference to their child’s success at school and future employment opportunities.

During this year’s National Literacy and Numeracy Week, The Smith Family highlighted the need to help parents actively engage in their children’s education, particularly those in poorer households where education can lead a child out of disadvantage.

Smith Family Ambassador, Sarah Harris, talks about parental involvement on Studio 10.

Wendy Field

Wendy Field, The Smith Family's Head of Policy and Programs

Our Head of Policy and Programs, Wendy Field, said the home learning environment was a bigger factor in a child’s  ability to succeed at school, than a family’s financial status.

"Students with parents who are engaged in their learning and development, no matter what their income or background, are more likely to do well at school and take up higher education,” Ms Field said.

 "However there are thousands of Australian parents who are unsure how to engage with their children in literacy and numeracy activities".


“This can be the case for parents who have had negative experiences at school, or have low levels of literacy and numeracy. It doesn’t mean they don’t have aspirations for their children’s success.

"Results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2012 show parents can nurture students’ engagement with and at school by holding high expectations for their children and by being more engaged in their children’s lives.”


Students with parents who are engaged in their learning and development, no matter what their income or background, are more likely to do well at school and take up higher education.

Wendy Field, Head of Policy and Programs

parent involvement

Parental engagement across a child’s life was important to a child’s success at school.

“This is even more important for children in financially disadvantaged families whose educational attainment can be the enabler for them to break out of disadvantage,” Ms Field said.

The Smith Family works closely with the families of students it supports and encourages parents and carers to be actively involved with their child’s education. It offers a range of programs that promote parental engagement, including:

  • Learning for Life: Engages parents in a long term focus on their children’s attendance at school.

  • Let’s Read and Let’s Count: Helps strengthen parents’ skills and confidence to support the learning of pre-school aged children.

  • School Community Hubs: Helps build the capacity of schools and communities to support parents to become more involved at school.

  • Tech Packs: Provides families with digital support, including equipment and training.

  • Financial Literacy programs: Help parents make more informed decisions about the management of their finances.

To read the full column featured in the Canberra Times, click here.