During our recent Parents’ Night, I spoke about teachers in terms of their sincere commitment to their students’ growth and development, and how they chose a teaching career because they care about the outcomes of others. I also touched on the importance of continuing to build a strong parent/teacher partnership on behalf of the students. What I’d like to speak to now is the role of the parent in this critical relationship.
Parents have a unique perspective on their children from non-school settings and contexts. For instance, what a child does outside of school in terms of talents, accomplishments, and travel can really help to foster their self-esteem, creativity, independence, and background knowledge. Whether its participation on a sports team, taking music lessons, being in a town musical, or traveling to a new location for sightseeing, it’s important and so valuable for children to have interests and passions beyond school. Students often share their talents and adventures in the world with their teachers and classmates during Morning Meeting, class discussions, and talent sharing. Anything that can help students realize their talents and passions, and also help them build background knowledge of the world is terrific.
There's a statistic that came as a huge surprise to me several years ago-- over the course of one school year a child spends nearly 7800 hours at home and 900 hours at school. Parents are a child’s first teacher(s). They model behavior, teach values, expose their children to literature, and help them navigate mathematics in everyday life like cooking and shopping. Teachers count on parents within their partnership to provide support in terms of homework and study skill development as well. A parent’s role in helping their children further develop executive functioning skills is paramount. Studies have shown a positive correlation between quality parental involvement in homework and student achievement and well-being (Gonida & Cortina, 2014; Patall et al., 2008; Trautwein et al., 2009). Quality parental involvement is noted as:
Parents providing a consistent and organized learning environment for homework completion that fosters self-regulated learning and autonomy.
Positive and supportive parental behavior during homework assistance.
Using an autonomy and competence supportive style (children possess inner motivational resources that certain conditions can support or frustrate).
Help managing time.
Build metacognitive skills (helping a child decide what homework is hard and what is easy, then encouraging them to work on the hard stuff first so they’re most alert for challenging work).
Communicate with the classroom teacher (to know what they expect and to inform them of what you are seeing and experiencing at home when supporting the child).
Being an independent school parent myself, I, like so many of you, have chosen this path for my child because I have many hopes and dreams for them, and I know what this type of institution and education can do for them. And while the independent school experience comes at a large financial cost for many families who make sacrifices to make it happen, it’s worth it. When parents and teachers partner in a positive manner on behalf of students, children’s work habits and attitudes about school improve. Research has also shown that children demonstrate better social skills, adaptability, and empathy (Hughes & Kwok, 2007; Leenders et al., 2019; Lekli, & Kaloti, 2015). When in partnership, parents and teachers communicate more effectively, develop stronger relationships with each other, and effectively support a child’s growth and development in terms of behavior and learning.
Children are a parent’s most precious treasure, and they want nothing but the best for them. Renbrook teachers know that fact and they greatly appreciate parent hopes and dreams. In the end, those partnerships have the greatest impact on those coming true.
Gonida, E. N., & Cortina, K. S. (2014). Parental involvement in homework: relations with parent and student achievement-related motivational beliefs and achievement. Br. J. Educ. Psychol. 84, 376–396. http://doi.org/10.1111/bjep.12039
Hughes, J., & Kwok, O.-m. (2007). Influence of student-teacher and parent-teacher relationships on lower achieving readers' engagement and achievement in the primary grades. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99(1), 39–51. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-06184.108.40.206
Leenders, H., de Jong, J., Monfrance, M., & Haelermans, C. (2019) Building strong parent–teacher relationships in primary education: the challenge of two-way communication, Cambridge Journal of Education, 49(4), 519-533. DOI: 10.1080/0305764X.2019.1566442
Santiago, R.T., Garbacz, S.A., Beattie, T. & Moore, C.L. (2016). Parent-teacher relationships in elementary school: An examination of parent-teacher trust. Psychology in Schools,53, 1003-1017. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.21971
Trautwein, U., & Lüdtke, O. (2009). Predicting homework motivation and homework effort in six school subjects: The role of person and family characteristics, classroom factors, and school track. Learning and Instruction, 19, 243-258. http://doi.org/19. 10.1016/j.learninstruc.2008.05.001