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Parent-teacher relationships - By Jude Hashem, Jordan News



A parent is a child’s first teacher, playing a pivotal role in his education. While parents show their children essential life and academic skills — all the while providing them with love and support for a healthy development — partnering with teachers who will build on that foundation is vital.

Some parents believe that children’s relationship with their peers is the most indicative of a positive school experience, but in terms of success and development, the relationship between parents and teachers is the most beneficial as they all see the child on a daily basis. Therefore, a relationship between the adults who make decisions that affect a child’s experiences and learning should be based on trust, respect, collaboration, and understanding.

What the research says
A study published in The International Journal about Parents in Education focused on the effects of parent-teacher relationships on a child’s wellbeing. In the study, parents completed a questionnaire that assessed their attitudes toward learning services, the level of parent-educator relationships, and their assessment of their child’s temperament and psychological wellbeing. Teachers filled a questionnaire assessing their satisfaction with their job, their assessment of children’s behavior, and the quality of parent-educator relation. Results showed a positive correlation between parent-teacher involvement and a child’s wellbeing, social orientation, emotionality, and learning.
... in terms of success and development, the relationship between parents and teachers is the most beneficial as they all see the child on a daily basis.
A 2020 study published in the Child Care in Practice journal aimed to assess the level of involvement of Jordanian parents with kindergarten children, and the influence of a parent’s gender and educational qualification. The results showed that Jordanian parental involvement was high in both home-learning environment activities and direct school activities. There was also a significant association between gender and involvement, with mothers being significantly more involved in their child’s learning. Results showed no significant association between a parent’s educational level and involvement.

Why are parent-teacher relationships beneficial?
When parents have a respectful relationship with their child’s school, and specifically their teachers, they put themselves in a position that allows them to share information to help the child get the most out of their education. When parents and teachers build a positive relationship, the child is more likely to be interested in learning and achieving classroom goals. This is highly related to trust, which can be passed down. Once a student sees that his parents trust his teachers and are in constant communication, he will come to trust the teachers as well.

Open, honest, and consistent communication with teachers will help monitor a child’s academic performance.

This leads to another added benefit to a good parent-teacher relationship: efficient problem solving. It is much easier to have conversations surrounding tough topics when relationships are strong. When teachers feel that they can honestly communicate with a parent about a specific problem, a solution is likely to be reached. For example, if a teacher sees a decline in a student’s participation, it is important that he feel comfortable enough to share that with the parent, with the aim of discussing strategies that both teacher and parent can use, so that the student can get back on track.
Open, honest, and consistent communication with teachers will help monitor a child’s academic performance.
With a good relationship, parents can share possible reasons for their children going through a phase of disconnection from their learning. Parents should be able to rely on teachers to share with them experiences and situations that the student might be going through, like bullying. This enables both adults to accurately assess situations and take appropriate action.

What can teachers do?
To build a solid support system, it is important for teachers to encourage and maintain relationships with parents. Consistent communication is key. Some schools have adopted their own online learning platform that enables easy communication among all parties. Whether through weekly reports or a monthly classroom newsletter, informing parents about highlights and challenges students face is essential.

Teachers should adopt a fair, clear, and consistent classroom system that is shared in the first week of school. These practices and expectations must be consistent and followed with fidelity. For example, a teacher can create a classroom agreement outlining all expectations of behavior, engagement, and participation in the classroom. So, when teachers have a note to share with a parent about a student’s behavior or participation, they have an agreement to fall back on.

A teacher must be able to accept and reflect on feedback. Parents’ insight in their children’s needs is very valuable data. It can greatly help a student with engagement and reaching their full potential. Of course, it is not practical to implement every idea, but trying to accommodate feasible requests will increase a parent’s trust in teachers and their abilities. When a parent shares criticism about performance, if done in a respectful and understanding manner, it is important for the teacher to not react emotionally and understand that it is coming from a place of wanting what is best for the child.

What can parents do?
A positive relationship relies on keeping lines of communication open. Parents should read the letters sent to them by the school to stay informed. This is the first step in ensuring progress in a parent’s relationship with a teacher. Reviewing and responding to a teacher’s correspondence will keep parents updated on classroom goals and their children’s progress in between report card cycles. Attending meetings is also a great way for parents to connect with teachers and establish expectations for classroom learning, as well as learn what is expected from them at home.
... it is important for the teacher to not react emotionally and understand that it is coming from a place of wanting what is best for the child.
A teacher might have a specific way to follow up on a student’s learning at home. For example, parents may be asked to refrain from introducing new concepts to students before they are taught in class to ensure that they are explained things in a chronological way that flows with what is being learned in the classroom.

Parents should also provide their children’s academic history. Teachers benefit from knowing a student’s strengths and needs, as it results in effective work toward meeting academic goals.

The fundamental factor in a healthy parent-teachers relationship is empathy. Teaching and parenting are two of the most difficult and exhausting jobs. Whether it is a parent who has to accept a teacher’s feedback, or a teacher who must understand that a student is going through a difficult time, empathy goes a long way. Avoid labelling parents as “uninvolved” or teachers as “out of touch”. It takes an entire village to raise a child, and successes are more meaningful when both parents and teachers come together to celebrate.

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