New Simulations to Enhance Parent & Community Engagement for PK-12 Schools

PK-12Bullying PreventionMental HealthSELSubstance UseSuicide Prevention

Children and youth are shaped by their experiences at school, at home, and in the community. As part of our commitment to supporting the whole child, we’re excited to announce Kognito’s PK-12 Parent & Community Bundle—a new collection of interactive online simulations specifically for parents and caregivers. 

Now, schools and districts can offer the same practice-based, engaging learning experiences available in our PK-12 professional development simulations to the people who are influencing children the most outside of the classroom. This has been a highly-requested offering, and we’re excited to share this first-of-its-kind solution with districts across the country. 

Why is community engagement so important? 

The CDC defines Parent Engagement in Schools as “parents and school staff working together to support and improve the learning, development, and health of children and adolescents.” A whole child approach addresses a student’s comprehensive needs, and can lead to positive outcomes related to behavior, mental health, and academic achievement. Research supports that these outcomes are amplified when children and youth feel supported both at home and in the classroom: 

  1. Parent engagement in schools has been linked to better student behavior, higher academic achievement, and enhanced social skills 
  2. When parents are engaged, children and adolescents are more likely to avoid sexual risk behaviors and substance use 
  3. Students who feel supported by their parents are less likely to experience emotional distress, practice unhealthy eating behaviors, consider or attempt suicide, or disengage from school and learning

One of the CDC’s recommended strategies to encourage parent engagement is to provide parents with information and skills they need to support healthy attitudes, behaviors, and environments. Giving parents and caregivers access to skill-building opportunities can help schools ensure that the same culture of care that they are working to establish in the classroom transitions to the home.

Short, interactive experiences can foster better engagement  

Engaging parents and caregivers can be challenging. They may work a demanding job, or multiple jobs, and free time is scarce. Or they may not feel that supporting their child’s education is within their capacity or part of their role. 

Although parents aren’t in the classroom, they are interacting with their children every day. The way they communicate with their children has far-reaching impacts, and schools can work to improve parent engagement by focusing on improving parent communication skills. 

To be successful, schools need to understand what motivates parents to take action. 

What doesn’t motivate parents: Informational flyers or worksheets aren’t cutting it with parents. And knowledge alone doesn’t change behavior. The information schools are providing can be valuable, but how many parents are actually studying them and incorporating the information into their life? 

What does motivate parents: Research shows that the primary motivation for parents to become involved appears to be a belief that their actions will improve their children’s learning and well-being.  

Parents and caregivers often struggle with knowing the right words to say when approaching difficult topics. The simulations in Kognito’s Parent & Community Bundle give them valuable information in an interactive environment, so they can be more confident in guiding their children, setting boundaries and expectations, and letting their children know that they’re there when they need to talk. 

Additionally, parents/caregivers need to have a reason to dive into content, and the content needs to capture and hold their attention. Kognito’s Parent & Community simulations were developed by seasoned teachers, child psychologists, childcare experts and parents. They provide practical strategies for broaching sensitive topics, encouraging children to open up, and problem solving together. They can improve parent engagement because they are: 

  1. Interactive experiences that address real-world challenges 
  2. Online (easy and convenient to access) 
  3. Brief (can be completed in just 5-20 minutes)
  4.  Show, rather than just tell, caregivers how they can make an impact through the use of virtual humans

About the Parent & Community Bundle of simulations 

The Parent & Community Bundle includes four simulations, each taking 5-20 minutes to complete. Schools/districts who adopt the simulations also receive an implementation toolkit, which includes email templates, flyers, and other promotional materials that encourage parents and caregivers to benefit from the educational opportunities. 

Summaries for each of the simulations are below. 

Emotional & Mental Wellness (K-12) 

This simulation explores ways to encourage open dialogue about emotional and mental wellness. Parents and caregivers discover tips to help start the conversation, build resiliency, respond to expressions of feelings and emotions, and when and how to seek additional support if needed. 

Substance Use (Ages 6-12) 

When it comes to prevention, early conversations are vital. Approximately 10% of 12-year-olds say they have tried alcohol, but by age 15, that number jumps to 50%, and by their senior year of high school, it’s risen to 70%. Having conversations around healthy choices and substance use with the trusted adults in their lives can have a strong positive influence on adolescent decision making. 

In this interactive program, parents and caregivers try a role-play conversation with a teenager about healthy choices and decision making. They will learn ways to open the conversation and communication techniques to engage the teen in the topic. They will also explore ways to discuss risks, set expectations, and discuss ways to handle different scenarios they might encounter. 

Safe & Caring Schools (Ages 6-12) 

In this program, parents and caregivers will get to practice communication techniques they can use to help their teen open up. They will learn to recognize signs that their child or a friend may be in distress, identify behaviors of concern including bullying, harassment, self-harm and threats, and understand potential resources of support if they hear something of concern. 

Calm Parents, Healthy Kids (Ages 2-5) 

In this simulation, parents of young children practice techniques to de-escalate stressful everyday situations and model desired behavior. The scenarios include managing behavior on the playground, in the supermarket, while on the phone and when trying to leave home on time. 

Calm Parents, Healthy Kids was the first simulation developed in the Parent & Community Bundle. In a pilot study, 100% of parents who participated in the interactive learning experience said they would recommend it to other parents. Additionally, parents reported increases in parental adjustment, positive encouragement, family relationships, and parental consistency particularly in respect to dealing with a child’s misbehavior. Parents reported a decrease in corporal punishment (spanking), and a higher consistency when applying consequences to misbehavior. 

Learn more and take a demo 

We invite district leaders to email us at info@kognito.com to request temporary access to the parent/caregiver simulations so you can experience them live.  We look forward to connecting with you.