'What' and 'How' of Equivalent PARENT-SCHOOL Relationship
Today was Saturday. Well, not just Saturday but we have our PTM too. As an intern I had a lot of expectations to meet the parents of students I had been teaching for a few months now. But only 20 parents turned out to attend it. And what surprised me more was the interaction between teachers and parents. On the name of PTM, a few instructions were given to them. There was no discussion about students and no feedback.
And that’s when I realized the gap between teacher and parents, their lack of interactions and almost having no time for each other.
Theories describes parents as primary socialization agents and a child’s first teacher. Later comes the role of school and peers as a source of learning. A school should involve in their understanding that “you cannot teach a child without the home/parental support”.
The “socialization theory” describes this process of social learning and thus, parental or home support is crucial for children to engage in an active learning process further during school education.
Since, involvement of parents in schools is crucial but it should be balanced and healthy, where parents and schools should have equivalent relationship, understanding and respecting each other and acknowledging each others concerns. This two-way process requires nurturance, communication and continuous interactions on the part of both groups.
What to do?
Building Foundation. As the saying goes, “first impression is the last impression” so make sure the school leaders make their first impression warm and welcoming. Apart from going through the registration and admission process in detail, make sure to have discussion with parents regarding their expectations from the school, getting their email and phone numbers.
Establish strong and continuous communication. Continuous communication with parents from beginning, enhance their trust, ease their anxiety and affirm their decision to enroll their children in your school. A quarterly letter from the school leader prepared with the help of school teachers will form personal connections with the school along with keeping them updated. It also enables the school leader to reinforce the value that the school is adding to students’ lives, with observing changes in the child’s development.
Mentor - mentee groups. Create contact programs for parents, where current parents act as a mentor to new three or five parents in the same class. The process will make new parents comfortable with the different procedures of the school providing them support system to enhance their trust. The mentors will act as a model example of involvement to new parents in the class. The school can organize events twice a year to form partnerships and convey crucial information regarding school’s working and expected parental involvement.
Get feedback. Like any other process where planning, implementation and feedback cycle is crucial, the process of teacher parent involvement will be benefited with this cycle too. Putting your efforts into work and getting feedback from parents will help teachers and schools to plan for further steps to be taken. Having set expectations, meetings and interactions won’t be enough till the planning is implemented and feedback taken. Questions like, “what are we doing well?” “where do we need to improve?” and “how would you like to contribute in the process?”, will help in getting parents feedback about the involvement process. The feedback will act as a springboard for further improvement.
How to do it?
Creating “Getting to Know” Sheets. “Getting to Know” sheets or information sheets can be shared with parents on the first day of school. The sheet can be divided into three sections. The first section can include questions asking for basic information: name of student and parents, parents occupation, address, email and phone numbers. The next section will have student’s time table, making it convenient for both teacher and parents to locate student during school day. Later, the teacher can maintain a “talk log” to keep track of the dates and details on which the parent had been contacted. This may sound like a lot of work, initially, but it will be helpful in the long run to keep track of contact details to be used in parent - teacher meetings.
Send Out “Knowing the Child” sheets. Asking parents about their child can be interesting for both parents and teachers, while the parents gets time to think about their children, teachers get to know more about their students. Two to three weeks after school starts, teachers can send out a “knowing the child” sheet home. The questions asked can be:
- How would you like to describe your child?
- What are your child's strength and weaknesses?
- What does your child do in his spare time?
The process will involve parents in the school functioning, while seeking their advice shows respect towards them and help teachers gain their trust.
Utilizing Technology. The technology can be a boon to parent involvement in schools. Since its use is common nowadays, teachers and parents both can easily reach out to each other whenever required. For the parents who aren’t using technology, teachers can always send out pamphlets and newsletters.
Engaging Parents. Parents can be engaged in schools, not just by communicating information to and fro but, by involving them in activities as well. These activities can be arranged in during parent teacher meetings or on the day of result announcement. The games and activities planned will building relations among parents as well as teachers. The games can be as simple as Lemon spoon race, tug of war and musical chairs, or other ice breaking activities, the major purpose is to enhance parent involvement in the school.
Developing an equal partnership with parents involves multiple aspects, however this relationship will get better results if, and when, maintained constantly. The outcomes of the above efforts will be observed in the results of the students, who act as a chain linking the teachers and parents.
This article has excerpts from Thought.co