By Daniel Curry
Most progressive schools see parents as partners in the journey of a child’s learning. Together we can create a personalized plan to provide a learner the best chance of success to grow into the person they are meant to be. Many hours are spent at school – more hours are spent at home. Both sets of adults need to be communicating and on the same page so that learners don’t get mixed messages and opposing approaches.
Clear and open lines of communication
This requires that schools have clear and open lines of communication. Administrators and Learning Leaders should be easy to reach. Any message should be acknowledged within 24 hours of receipt. Schools should also follow up in a timely manner. Parents need to also be easily accessible and quick to respond to the school. Often concerns arise which are time sensitive, and quicker interventions are most effective.
Multiple avenues of communication
Schools and parents should also have multiple avenues of communication. Beyond the various electronic methods (email, apps, etc.), there should be regular personal interaction. At our Schools in Gurugram, we have monthly parent council meetings with representatives from each class and section. There are weekly coffee sessions with small groups of parents. As much as possible, my door is open to drop-ins. Annual surveys to parents and staff help the school proactively identify areas of strength and areas for growth. If schools and parents can build good rapport and develop a relationship built on mutual understanding and trust, then when challenges arise they are much easier to address.
My advice to both school officials and parents in any communication is to first recognize the common ground. We both have the best interests of the learner in mind, and we want to work together. What often impedes good communication is when one or the other party jumps right into a conversation with a solution without having really discussed the problem or concern.
For example, a kindergarten parent may tell me that the school needs to have more writing practice. It would be easy to get into a back-and-forth about our writing program. However, I know that fundamentally we want the same thing for the child. So my question gets to the heart of the matter – I want to know what is happening with her child that leads her to conclude more writing practice is a solution. If we can together identify the specific concern, then we can collaborate on the best specific solution. Perhaps the writing program needs adjustment – or perhaps there is a more direct and simpler way to address the concern.
Openness and transparency
Likewise, schools should be open about what they are doing and why. If a school communication goes home, it shouldn’t sound like a government circular requiring compliance. It should explain what the need is and why it matters to parents, and more importantly, to children. Transparency is vital in building and maintaining trust.
Friendship and trust
With a strong, trusting and friendly relationship, schools and parents can collaborate more efficiently. The moment a concern arises, they are talking together and seeking solutions. Often a plan is agreed upon which requires the school and the parents to take the same approach at school and home. These interventions are quickly effective and beneficial. Otherwise, school and parents are working at cross purposes and the child suffers.
Parent teacher relationships are given a lot of importance in the Top Schools in Gurugram, be it a nursery school, a kindergarten or a primary school. The better the schools are, the more the emphasis on this vital aspect of making children successful.
Let’s continue to work together, presume positive intentions (one of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits), and keep the interests of each child in the forefront. When schools and parents communicate often, the learners benefit.