Significance of effective parent-teacher relationship
It’s about that time when our child is at an age where we start looking for a place which for the next 10-12 years of their life will define their personality, character and technical skill needed to grow to a respectful citizen of the society. This is the foundation for any child and the first major decision in a parent’s life where they will be handing over their child to an institution of learning. This would be a long and painful exercise as we want our children to be numero uno.
Rising from the ranks of a teacher to being an entrepreneur in the field of education and consulting services I have had the opportunity to interact with parents, teachers and staff of various educational institutions who come from different walks of life, with varied behaviors, attitudes and anxieties. I was very confident but anxious as I prepared myself and my child for this major hand off and transition. But when it was time to hand her over to a totally strange world and unknown people in a whole new environment, I found myself wiping away a tear. Many a times, as parents, it becomes difficult for us to be sure what we would get from the learning institution. This fear and uncertainty is not unheard or uncommon as that is where the child will spend most of the time of the day.
The teaching and care we expect could leave us with either a good or bad taste and conflict with what we want from the institution for our child. But in both the cases we fail to communicate our message the right way to the teachers and to the institution. Appreciating the teacher for our child’s performance to having an open discussion with the school management regarding specific policies we many a time seem to miss the bus. We either choose to be silent and avoid a discussion beyond what is required or beyond what we are asked for or we choose to let our frustrations out through offending anonymous letters to the management. I have to express my resentment to certain specific actions like what I mentioned as they lead to more complication and no effective resolutions. We are looking for the future of our child and need to address their issues than paint all the issues of children with a broad brush. It is the prerogative of the parents who are integrally intertwined with the institution to build a responsible, aware, socially committed generation for the future.
I want to focus on how critical or crucial a Parent-Teacher relationship is for the holistic development of a child and how we as parents, can put efforts to make this relationship fruitful, meaningful and result driven.
In today's hurried world, taking time to know the people who are educating our future generation is more difficult, but more important than ever. Two people working together who have the best interest of the child in mind have a greater impact than if they work alone, Misunderstandings between student, parent and teacher are common, but can be lessened with early communication between parent and teacher. Here are few suggestions out of my experience of being a teacher and a parent on improving this communication:
Share Important information with the school
Parents can foster communication by taking advantage of open houses and other opportunities the school provides to meet with the teacher. It is important for parents to share information about their child's needs with the teacher. Make the teacher aware of special learning styles or needs relevant to the child's performance that may not be documented in the student's file.
Get involved in your child’s school activities
Parents can also offer specific ways in which they are willing to help, like organising a field trip, helping with a bulletin board or sending snacks for the class. Any contribution a parent can make is beneficial, Parents need to ask themselves how they can be involved, how they can contribute to their child's school.
Approach this relationship with respect
Treat the teacher-parent-child relationship the way you would treat any really important one in your life. Create a problem-solving partnership, instead of confronting a teacher immediately with what’s wrong. Meet the teacher to brainstorm and collaborate ways to help your child, instead of delivering a lecture or keeping things hidden from the teacher. The dining table family talks belittling the school or the teacher can create a sense of disrespect for the teacher among the children.
Let your child develop his own relationship with the teacher
This is one of the first relationships with an adult your child may have outside the family unit. If you take a back seat and let the relationship develop without much interference, a special bond may develop.
Try not to boast or belittle the pillars of your children’s foundation
As a place of learning which shapes our children’s future we should be able to have the mutual respect irrespective of our position in the society. Here we are parents first. Of course we think our child is brilliant, but boasting over child’s many accomplishments may send a message to the teacher that we think the teacher may not be good enough to teach your child. We don’t need to sell our child to the teacher. Have trust in teacher that he will come to know of your child’s strengths and weaknesses and do the needful. Success is not always defined by how many prizes or awards our children get but how we as parents encourage the spirit of sportsmanship and “it’s all right to not be awarded always”.
Eliminate fear of reprimand
Parents and students alike fear that a teacher may reprimand and show nepotism. This is common and exists in our school system. Open communication of such potential actions may help the institution address these grievances in an astute manner. The institution is also successful as its major stakeholders provide feedback to better develop the various established processes.
Appreciate and express your gratitude
There are situations where we have always liked and appreciated what the teacher does for our child but we fail to express. It would work wonders if we could just send a Thank you note through our children or just make our children speak and say a thank you note for the teachers. This would inculcate a sense of gratitude in them.
Practice proactive and affirmative communication
We might have disagreements with the management or the teacher or the school policies. The best way to approach this would be to communicate this to the right person and the right authority. For example, if you have a problem with the teaching pedagogy or your child’s academics it would be best to have a one on one communication with the teacher and not the school administrator. If the problem lies with the transport system of the school or certain examination system in the school, the right person would be either the administrator or the Principal. We use the ‘one size fits all’ concept to address issues and never follow up on suggestions and recommendations that are made. Parents should empower themselves to request, learn and get questions answered by management of the institutions in the interest of transparency and engagement of parents for the development of all involved.
A positive parent-teacher relationship helps you feel good about the person who deals with your child which in turn brings a positive tone to the conversation with your child. Your child feels good about school and is motivated to be successful in school; It demonstrates to your child that he/she can trust his/her teacher, because you do. This positive relationship makes children feel like the important people in their life are working together. Research conducted across the globe have shown children in their early years tend to listen to the teachers as “all they know is he /she is the authority in what they do”. Is this not what we want of our children, learn to respect and thereby build a high self-esteem.
(The author is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Learning Arena, an e-learning company)