You’ve heard the old saying “it takes a village to raise a child”. When it comes to their education, the same principle should be applied in the form of a positive and proactive partnership between teachers, student and parents.
I’m a huge advocate for clear, open communication between all parties to avoid misunderstandings and unnecessary stress. Good relationships between teachers and parents should be a priority to ensure the best outcome for children.
There are a number of simple things that parents and teachers can do to support one another.
Teachers supporting parents:
Keep parents up to date
Parents who confide in a teacher and don’t receive further feedback on an issue affecting their child can become frustrated and angry. If they’ve made an effort to contact the school, it means they’re genuinely concerned. They need to feel confident their child is being cared for by teachers staying contact and updating them on what’s being done.
Send home a note
Make a special effort to call or send home a note to parents of children who need extra support or are struggling to fit in. A teacher who shares a few kind words about their child’s successes or positive progress will win a parent’s heart in an instant.
Find out more
If you have a student who is misbehaving or is rebelling, take the time to talk to the parents. Delve a little deeper to uncover the underlying cause of their unhappiness. A little extra knowledge could give you a far greater understanding of the support a child may need and how you can help them get back on track.
Let parents know they’re still needed
Parents can sometimes mistakenly believe that their child going off to school means their job as an educator is over. Teachers must emphasis how vital it is for parents to take an active interest in supporting their child throughout their education. Clearly communicate how parents can reinforce learning at home and supervise homework activities.
Allow parents to help
Some parents enjoy being involved at school. It can make them feel useful, more connected and have better parent/teacher relationships when they’re able to help out in some way.
How parents can help teachers:
Don’t jump to conclusions
Parents often become defensive if their child is upset and lash out at teachers before they have all the facts. A disgruntled child can sometimes make things sound a lot worse than they really are. Before jumping to conclusions, be sure to get both sides of the story.
Remember teachers are human too
Your child comes home complaining that their teacher’s grumpy or unfair. Instead of immediately siding with your child, it’s better to make your child aware that teachers are human too. Everyone has a bad day, can feel unwell or be upset for some reason, and just like you, they sometimes let it show. Ask your child to give their teacher the benefit of the doubt before thinking they’re mean or don’t care about them.
“A child educated only in school is an uneducated child.”
– George Santayana
Inform your child’s teacher
When things change at home, there’s a death in the family or people are under stress, your child can be impacted in a negative way. Their behaviour may change at school or they may withdraw and stop participating. Informing a teacher will help them support your child during difficult times instead of believing they’re just “misbehaving”.
Show you appreciate your teacher’s efforts
Just like you, teachers need and appreciate positive feedback. When a teacher is doing a good job, let them know. If you feel a teacher has lost enthusiasm, encourage them by giving them a little recognition and making them feel special in some way.
Show you’re interested
At the start of a new year, make an effort to meet with your child’s teacher. Share information about their personality, their likes and dislikes and what you expect them to get out of the next year at school. Ask your teacher how you can support your child in their learning and make it clear that you’d like to be informed of any difficulties or issues that arise.
What are some other ways you think parents and teachers can support one another?
Author: Lisa Currie, Ripple Kindness Project
Lisa is the founder of Ripple Kindness Project, a community program and school curriculum that aims to improve social, emotional and mental health, and reduce bullying by teaching and inspiring kindness. The ongoing, whole school primary curriculum teaches children about their emotions and the impact their words and actions have on others. It provides opportunities for children to be part of kindness activities, allowing them to experience the feel good emotions kindness produces.