20 Apr 2023
Schools and Parents – Collaborating to best support Children
«…no school can work well for children if parents and teachers do not act in partnership on behalf of the children’s best interests. Parents have every right to understand what is happening to their children at school, and teachers have the responsibility to share that information without prejudicial judgment…. Such communication, which can only be in a child’s interest, is not possible without mutual trust between parent and teacher.» - Dorothy H. Cohen
Relationships in all areas play a highly important role in the upbringing and development of a child. Just as teachers recognise the importance of forging strong connections with their pupils, parents are aware that their relationship and involvement in their child’s life, vastly impacts their child’s overall development - socially, emotionally and academically. In addition to the importance of these relationships, the relationship between teachers and parents should not be underestimated.
What are the benefits of school and parent collaboration?
There is a wealth of research which clearly indicates that collaboration between schools and families positively impacts children. As found by Jeynes (2017), parental involvement is one of the main antecedents of both school behaviour and academic performance in 28 studies analysed by the researcher. This correlation existed in all age groups, ranging from pre-kindergarten children to university students.
Whilst approximately two-thirds of a child’s academic achievements will be determined through inherited genes (Kovas et. al, 2013), maximising the collaboration between schools and parents allows for significant room in further supporting each child. Having positive parent-teacher relationships is a win-win situation for both parties. Teachers benefit from additional input from an academic, social and behavioural point of view, as well as being able to draw upon knowledge of the whole child. Additionally, parents feel more involved in their child’s education and feel more confident in how to help their child academically.
What can schools do to enhance this partnership?
In order to help the relationship develop, educators should strive to work on the following areas:
- Being communicative: It is vital to keep parents informed about happenings at the school, and also ensure that parents can help support their child. Teachers should ensure that parents are informed about special lessons, excursions, tests etc. so that parents can support their child in preparing as necessary. Sharing information via school applications or email keeps everybody informed, and in a timely manner.
- Being open: Teachers sometimes worry about giving parents news that may be taken negatively. Unfortunately, this worry can hinder the speed at which they reach out to parents to address their concerns. Despite this, in the vast majority of cases, parents are extremely thankful for being contacted early. It is therefore paramount for teachers to invite parents at the earliest opportunity to discuss any concerns. This approach benefits both teachers and parents to feel reassured that they are working together for the child’s best interest.
- Being positive: Working with children is a wonderful experience. No matter how difficult a day can be, there will always be positives in each and every child. Mostly, when schools reach out to contact parents, it can be when there is a need to discuss a concern or to address an issue. Reaching out to parents and sharing good news also helps to celebrate success and ensures that positive reinforcement is also given at home. Parents work in a time when work-lives are much more busy than they used to be, and teachers work in a time when school standards have never been higher. On top of this, children are working on levels beyond those that were expected of the generations ahead. We should remember this, and also ensure that there are plenty of opportunities to share the success of our children.
How can parents enhance this partnership?
As mentioned, modern society, with the influence of social media and busy work-lives, mean that finding the time to support our children can be more challenging. However, even with the distractions of work emails, social media etc., it is vital to ensure that parents make the time to show an interest in their child’s school life. Looking at pictures that teachers send, asking your child about their day, helping with homework and reading together are key to showing children that parents value education and school.
Perhaps to help ensure that school and parent collaboration is two-way, some suggestions on how parents can support are included below:
- Stay on top of communication from school: Although it may appear a lot at times, schools have the obligation to inform parents about what their children are doing, but additionally, they perhaps require responses and permission from parents for legal and health and safety reasons. Acting quickly when requested supports the teachers and allows them to focus on the teaching side of their job, as opposed to the administrational tasks, which have increased significantly for teachers in recent years.
- If a concern comes up, contact the teacher directly: Naturally, whenever teachers are trying to accommodate for the needs of 20 pupils (and 40 parents) there will inevitably be situations where somebody does not agree with an aspect of a teacher's work or a decision that they have taken. If such a situation arises please do not hesitate to approach the teachers for further clarification. Teachers will greatly appreciate this exchange and the opportunity to discuss, reflect or clarify with you directly. Please be aware that going over their head to a supervisor or sending messages into a parent chat group will only build barriers to collaboration. It is also important to not speak negatively about a teacher in front of your child. This simply puts the child in a difficult and confusing position.
- Being positive: From time to time, share some positive feedback with your child’s teacher. Hearing that a child enjoyed a certain activity, or receiving a ‘thank you’ for the progress being made by your child, goes a long way to help ensure that your child’s teacher feels appreciated and trusted.
As highlighted through a multitude of research studies, children who are supported by strong home-school collaboration, clearly increase their chances of reaching their full potential. Although teachers and parents may take different approaches, or hold different views, collaborating and sharing information will undoubtedly support your child in academic, social and emotional areas. We look forward to many exchanges with our parents.
Jeynes, W. (2017) A meta-analysis: The relationship between parental involvement and student outcomes, Education and Society.
Kovas, Y., Voronin, I., Kaydalov, A., Malykh, S. B., Dale, P. S., & Plomin, R. (2013): Literacy and Numeracy Are More Heritable Than Intelligence in Primary School. Psychological Science, 24(10), 2048–2056.
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