Knowing how and when to partner with your child’s teachers can help to contribute towards the success of his/her education. Research has shown that children whose parents take an active role in their studies and well-being have a better attitude towards learning and perform better in school. Schools recognise the value of cultivating this relationship, and good teachers constantly look for ways and means to engage parents.
In order to make things work, it is important to remember that a partnership is a relationship, a two-way street. Unless there is mutual involvement and respect, what a teacher does alone will only have limited impact.
Parent involvement in Singapore sits on the moderate end on the scale, and this decreases exponentially as a child grows older. It is mostly during specially arranged meetings concerning bad behaviour or poor academic performance that parents take an active role in their child’s education. Waiting until then may be too late, as the already tenuous relationship between parent and teacher is further strained. It takes a lot more effort to repair the relationship, and there is only so much that can be done to promote positive collaboration.
Working Together Towards the Same Goal
Both teachers and parents want the same thing for a child: for them to learn and work towards their dreams and aspirations. With a common goal, teachers and parents should be looking in the same direction and speaking the same language.
However, this is often far from the truth, as the relationship between a parent and teacher is usually fragile and fogged with much judgment and misunderstanding. The same source of concern, which is the child, is often also the same source of judgment. Both parents and teachers constantly, and without basis, find themselves judging each other. As a result, the parent-teacher relationship is filled with doubt and suspicion.
Teachers, like parents, want the best for their students. Your child’s teachers are no different, and this should make you a team, not adversaries. Here are some tips on how you can foster a good relationship with your kids’ teachers by working together with them:
1. Make the First Move
In most Singapore schools, there is a missing culture of parent-teacher interaction. Teachers get intimidated by their students’ parents for a variety of reasons, and choose to avoid any real interaction with parents. On the other hand, parents seem content to let the days and weeks go by without communicating with their kids’ teachers – just as long as nothing “comes up”. However, in doing so, they have lost many opportunities to team up with the teachers in order to give the best to their children.
Parent-teacher meetings do not have to be awkward and edgy situations that involve a group of adults pushing blame or trying to gain dominance. Do remember that the goal of this parent-teacher partnership is to establish positive contact and help each other support the child in school. It is not to absolve responsibility or to win for the sake of pride. As a parent, you can take the lead, and start building positive connections.
2. Smart Partnership
Parent-teacher collaboration should not involve kiasu parents barging into the school office, demanding to do things their way. There have been instances where the parents refuse to back down until the school gives in to their requests.
Needless to say, after one stormy incident, the parent will inevitably leave an impression that sticks in the teacher’s minds. The teacher may start paying attention and check doubly hard on matters concerning the child, but often not in a positive manner. What ends up happening is that this set of parents will fall into the category of parents with whom the teacher may not want to work with and give their best to their kids.
Relationship building is probably one of the most vital yet difficult skills to master. As a parent, if you could model a successful partnership with the school, your child will benefit tremendously from not just the positive connections you make, but simply observing the way you collaborate with others.
With the same goal and the right attitude, parents and teachers can close the gap and become strong partners in education. After all, it takes a village to raise children.
Suggested Reading: 5 Ways to Raise a Child with High Emotional Intelligence
Article contributed by Leong Sou Cheng, a Singaporean educator with teaching experiences in local Singapore schools and international schools around the world.