The Magic of Parent-Teacher Partnerships for Complex Learners
The research is clear – children whose parents are more involved in their education have higher rates of attendance, homework completion, elevated grades, and school completion. Family involvement also facilitates children’s cognitive, social, and emotional functioning and has been linked to increased self-esteem. This is particularly true for students with complex learning profiles and special needs.
While the benefits of school-family partnerships are solidly demonstrated and widely supported, there remains a lack of consensus on the best magic formula for making this happen. Here are a few things to consider. Magic wand optional.
- Successful parent-teacher partnerships rely on the underlying belief that all families can contribute to children’s learning and development and that parents and teachers share responsibility for both nurturing and educating children.
- Creating a trusting relationship between families and schools, one that recognizes and respects each other’s diverse styles, skills, and strengths, is paramount.
- Communication is a two-way street. Parents can let teachers know their preferred way of communicating and provide information on what might affect their child’s day. Teachers can find creative and flexible ways to offer feedback and updates. The responsibility to communicate does not fall on one person or the other. See the first sentence!
- Common language fosters greater academic, social and emotional learning. For example, if a child is working on The Zones of Regulation®in school, using the same language at home reinforces concepts of self-regulation. When a parent points out that their child is in “the green zone” in a similar way that this language is used in school, the child makes the connection that their behaviors are recognized and experienced similarly in both environments.
- Teachers do not know the children in their classroom as well as the parents know them. Parents may have solutions and strategies that work at home or know what factors have an impact on the child’s focus and learning.
- On the other hand, parents can learn classroom routines and practices to help create similar structures and expectations at home. Teachers may have found a new strategy that helps the child feel calm or focused. Hidden talents and interests may surface at school.
- If parents and teachers remain positive and focus on the specific needs of the child, they can develop respect, support, and appreciation for each other and create a learning environment at school and home for optimal growth.
In striving for a partnership there may be bumps along the way. A comment misinterpreted. But the truth is, teachers want to know their students and help them soar. And parents want what’s best for their children because their greatest hope is for them to be happy and secure. So, for the love of each and every child, get out there. Build a team. Work patiently, kindly and consistently together, and expect magic.
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