Back to school: teacher and parent partnership

You and your child are on the verge of another school year; his teachers too. While teachers and parents do their best for children’s education, how much better it would be when they work together.

By Kannalmozhi Kabilan

Back to school: teacher and parent partnership

The early teens are never easy. It’s when the world of innocence gives way to a world where your friends are no longer friends; there’s name-calling, teasing and backbiting. It was no different for Anita Vasan’s 13-year-old daughter. She would wake up in the morning and refuse to go to school. Soon, it became a cause for concern and Anita was at her wits’ end not knowing how to handle the situation. She reached out to the principal of the school where her daughter was studying. Without complaining or pointing fingers at anyone, Anita sought guidance and support, so her daughter would learn to handle the situation by developing emotional strength. The Principal, in turn, understood Anita’s concern and acted quickly. He introduced her daughter to the school psychologist who helped her overcome her challenges and regain confidence.

A few months later, in the same school, there was another case of bullying. In this case, however, the parents, instead of seeking the school’s support, went on the attack mode. They accused the school, principal and teachers of being negligent and went on a rant against students they assumed were the bullies. Charges and accusations were traded, and soon, this led to an atmosphere of anger and mistrust. It became a no-win situation for the girl who was caught in the midst of this bitter dispute.

Same school, same authorities, yet one child benefitted, the other one was hurt even more. The difference is the attitude and reaction of the parents and teachers in handling the issues.

Importance of parent–teacher partnership

Collaborations, in any field, are made for the mutual benefit and betterment of all parties involved. Nothing proves it more than an efficient partnership between a parent and teacher in the education of their ward. “The parent is the teacher at home and the teacher is the parent in the school,” says Ezhil Uzhathi, teacher at one of the government schools in Chennai. “An actively involved parent helps make the child’s education truly wholesome and worthwhile. This kind of nurturing support from a parent not only positively influences the child’s academic achievements, but also enhances his overall growth and well-being,” she adds.

For a teacher, information about a child’s home environment helps structure her teaching methods to suit the child’s needs. For a parent, a clear picture of the child’s school environment helps contribute better to his education and grooming.

When things go wrong

By the time Harini’s son Kiran reached kindergarten, he was properly potty-trained. But, Harini noticed him returning home with soiled pants, day after day. Kiran claimed that his teacher didn’t let him use the bathroom when he asked. When Harini met the teacher to enquire about the issue, he explained that he did not allow multiple visits to the bathroom. The reason he gave was that children asked to make frequent visits to the bathroom only to kill time. When informed about the soiled pants, he immediately advised Harini to consult a doctor about her son. Disappointed with the off-hand reaction, Harini was forced to take the issue to the next level of authority.

Your child will be at the receiving end of such unpleasant consequences when the parent and teacher don’t see eye-to-eye. Complications between the two parties, ultimately, affect the child’s academic performance, involvement in school activities, interest in education and overall well-being.

Therefore, it is essential that parents and teachers work in tandem. And, such working together should begin right from the start of the new school year. 

Expectations: Teachers Vs Parents

When it comes to finding the best solutions, parents and teachers often have to rely on each other for guidance and support. Here are a few scenarios where we list out what parents expect from teachers and what teachers expect from parents.

Parent: Menaka Girish, mother of 7-year-old Aaradhana, Hyderabad

Teacher: Jansi Dharmaraj, Don Bosco High School, Mumbai

Back to school: teacher and parent partnership

How parents can partner with teachers

Here are 5 ways by which parents can effectively collaborate with teachers for the wholesome education of their children.

Establish contact

At the start of the school year or just before, teachers can establish contact with the parents of every child in their class. Open the lines of communication with a personal meeting or a phone call. Make sure both parent and teacher know how to reach the other, when in need. Good communication between the parent and teacher can go a long way in aiding the child’s education.

Keep them posted

Keeping parents constantly involved and updated on the child’s life at school will certainly help. Let them know about upcoming events, exams, competitions, activities and more. Once in a while, send them notes about their child – be it appreciating his efforts at school, a particularly well-done assignment, his general academic progress or any concerns about his behaviour. Being kept in the loop motivates parents to contribute equally to their children’s benefit. It’s a win-win formula.

Hold parent–teacher meetings

This is the most basic partnership tool. Have meetings once a month or once in three months. But, let it be more than a cursory custom. Do not limit it to discussing the child’s academic performance. Allow space for the child to raise his concerns as well. Be sure to take suggestions from each other and put it to good use at home and at school.

Offer homework helpline

Perhaps the biggest challenge of school is the large amount of homework that comes with it. A struggling parent is left seeking help, on behalf of the child. Teachers, however, can make life easier for the parent; assign a website that will aid with homework or provide a number the parent can call in case of queries. This could prove to be the best result of the parent-teacher partnership.

Encourage parent volunteers

When in need, parents can volunteer at their children’s school – for a fund-raising event, to sub for a teacher, arranging extra-curricular activities and more. Such involvement from the parent will get the child to be more enthusiastic and passionate about his time at school. It will also set an example for the next generation of education providers.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much,” said Helen Keller who was fortunate to have a great teacher. Yes, that’s what partnership is all about. So, here’s wishing a successful collaboration!