This article is adapted from “Establishing healthy parent-teacher relationships for early learning success”, posted by Susan M. Sheridan on Early Learning Network with some modifications.
In the early development stage, kids learn from imitating parents' actions: They babble when their mothers read to them; they laugh when they see their parents laugh. When kids go to school, many parents might feel like they are giving the torch to teachers, saying, "I count on you to teach my kids". Yet, we all know that teachers are not solely responsible for the healthy development of our children. According to Farkas et al. (1999), there is a need for constant engagement between teachers and parents for kids to learn and grow– both academically and personally. In this article, we will discuss different ways to promote a positive relationship between parents and teachers, which are highly beneficial for our children's success.
Why do we need healthy parent-teacher relationships?
Studies of successful schools indicate that increasing parent involvement in school activities has two significant benefits: increasing student academic success and narrowing the achievement gap between students. When a partnership is formed between parents and teachers, children will improve academically and emotionally. They are likely to have higher rates, fewer behavioral issues, and better social skills.
Beside the improvement of children's learning trajectory, the adults also benefit from this partnership. When they collaborate, parents and teachers will be on the same page to support children's behaviors and learning. They will learn to communicate effectively and form a healthy relationship with each other.
There are three pillars that construct a parent-teacher partnership (3 C’s): communication, consistency and collaboration.
Set a Goal: Communicate with your child's teacher early on to set an expectation. Start by letting him or her know that you want to contribute to your child's education and divide the workload.
Set a Channel for Communication: Some useful ways to communicate include: sending notes to school with your child, exchanging numbers with teachers, posting on the school’s application or other methods based on your preference. To stay on the same page, discuss preferred channels with your children’s teachers.
Clear and Timely: Frequent, two-way communication is important to keep up to date of what is happening at school.
Parent Meeting Guide: When attending parent-teacher meetings, make sure you discuss about your child’s efforts and behaviors. Share with teachers about your child’s strengths and challenges, likes and dislikes and other stuff you want teachers to take notice of.
Consistent Learning at Home: Learning must occur simultaneously at school and at home. Parents should ask teachers about effective ways to promote constant learning at home to help children engage better. Some examples include: creating a homework routine, monitoring a child's reading activities, encouraging healthy eating habits and physical activities.
Letting kids know your support: When it comes to plans and expectations, a partnership between parents and teachers lets him know that you and his teacher together support his learning.
Planning: As parents and teachers embark on a journey of collaboration, they should expect issues that might arise. Planning for problems beforehand can be useful, and it will be easier to address challenges in the long run.
Problem-Solving and Follow-Up: When a problem has been identified (e.g., students' disciplinary issues), both parties need to work together to find a solution. Both should avoid blaming each other and begin making plans that involve support and responsibility at both home and school. After the solution is in place, parents and teachers should follow through on plans to make sure progress is being made.
This month marks the beginning of a school year for many of our students. This is the perfect time for parents to form meaningful relationships with your child's teacher, which will have a significant impact on their learning and development goals. Hopefully, these evidence-based practices will help you become active agents in your child's success at home, school, and in the future.