How To Build A Parent-Teacher Partnership For Learning Continuity In Children?
An international consensus, especially during the pandemic has seen that until and unless parents and teachers work in unison for children, the dream of providing a quality developmental climate to children cannot be achieved.
What constitutes the best childhood experiences? This is the most common question asked on all the platforms that believe in the fact that the first eight years of life will decide on how the eighty years will turn out to be. Most of the research that has been done in finding the answer to this question, has seen separate impacts on a child's home and school before and after the pandemic times. Since this virus has changed the human perspective on many aspects, this pertinent question is no exception.
An international consensus, especially during the pandemic has seen that until and unless parents and teachers work in unison for children, the dream of providing a quality developmental climate to children cannot be achieved. This partnership is more crucial than ever if children need to be taken away from the deadly memories of the pandemic year. The qualitative and quantitative studies conducted on high achieving gifted children in the Scandinavian countries, USA, European and Asian countries including India, found that children prosper only when the academic and home climate mesh is found with the right academic attitude and environment in schools.
To bring this mesh to reality, it is imperative to bring teachers and parents together while we transition to normal. This sounds easy but ground data depicts a different picture. Even before the entry of the virus, preschools that have tried parent partnership initiatives through parent volunteer programs mostly ended up complaining about the lack of enthusiasm and participation on the part of parents. Moreover, teachers often highlighted a lack of trust and respect from the parent's end when asked about the biggest challenges for partnership.
On the other hand, parents complain that education is being treated as a business in India and they feel lost at times. In my professional life, thousands of parents have shared with me about them working for long hours just to fund their children’s education through highly established schools, but how they are still not sure if their child is getting the best exposure through the school. Continuous fee hikes, lack of transparency from the schools’ part, and ambiguity in communication are some of These pandemics that has posed a few additional challenges to some of the already existing bothersome factors. Certain key points like school reopening plans, fee reimbursements, misaligned expectations on the safety and health of children are those contentious points that will loom large on the parent-teacher collaborative growth.
The Ray of hope
This pandemic has surely challenged human functioning to its core but at the same time, it has also unravelled certain undiscovered strengths of the human race. As families struggle to manage work for home and work from home, recognition of the efforts of teachers has skyrocketed. Studies of the last couple of months indicate a highly positive trend - gratitude for teachers, trust in their abilities, and their invaluable role in children’s holistic development has increased in leaps and bounds. Just recently in Buenos Aires, families went out to their balconies to applaud not only doctors and nurses but also teachers.
This respect for the profession and newfound support for teachers need to be capitalized on. The time has arrived to carve a path for education that might emerge stronger from this global crisis than ever before. This pandemic has brought all of us to the entry of an educational revolution worldwide. There might not be another moment in the history of humankind when the crucial role of teachers in raising responsible citizens is so well understood by parents.
Before we miss this boat, here are some effective ways to capitalize on the sentiment through which teachers and parents can collaborate.
1. Connected Schools
Schools cannot and should not work in silos. Schools that stay connected through technology to the outer world and consciously focus on building relationships with parents, policymakers and society at large are going to be game-changers under the educational revolution. Some countries like the USA are calling this system powered-up schools as they leverage the partnerships to help learners develop the life skills that are most needed in today’s world. The most important way to build a strong partnership among parents and teachers is the development of such connected schools that are open to absorb contributions from every stakeholder.
2. Redefine parent’s role in education
A significant amount of research has depicted that a well-planned curriculum failed to bring the impact, despite serious efforts, simply because the power of home-to-school connections was ignored. Before the entry of the pandemic, the very concept of parent engagement had a marginal place in key conversations about the education of children. Thankfully, the pandemic has changed this approach. The need of the hour is to involve parents’ voices while designing and implementing the curriculum. Parents need to become an integral part of the instructional core and should become a primary contributor in defining content as well.
3. Target specific training for teachers and parents
Longitudinal studies coming from Brookings Research Initiatives in more than 50 countries indicate that teachers need to be trained on how to handle the parent-cooling effect. Sometimes, parent involvement in curriculum and distrust of technology becomes counterproductive for partnership. Parents end up creating a cooling effect on the teachers, leading them to stop using many of the techniques of the new world. Targeted training on handling ePTMs, how to avoid the cooling effect from parents, and ways to win the trust of parents are some significant training that teachers require to play their role in the parent-teacher partnership.
Similarly, making parents aware of case studies like Ghana preschools can help parents not become the source of this cooling effect. A randomised control trial using longitudinal data in Ghana’s preschools found a marked improvement in student outcomes when parents trusted teaching modifications. In the schools where the curriculum changes were paired with doubtful approaches from parents, the opposite happened. The parent involvement, in that case, was counteracted, and the children’s outcomes were worse than those in the control group. The ultimate loser was the child, unfortunately.
4. Platforms to interact
Any relationship building cannot sustain if there is a vacuum of the platform to connect. We need to bring parent-teacher partnerships from the margins to the centre stage to rapidly accelerate children’s learning on the other side of the pandemic. All agencies in society need to provide platforms that become breeding grounds of trust, collaboration, and respect. Hearing both sides of stories, conversations on life readiness instead of limiting to school readiness, education as a tool for long-term recovery from pandemic are some of those topics that these two bodies -parents and teachers - need to discuss together. Organizations, schools, and the government can help by hosting meaningful seminars and conferences so that the real voices are heard.
Education, for sure, is a victim of the pandemic but it is also the seed through which we can emerge stronger from the global crisis. The only caution is to focus on providing an education system that is no more obsolete or redundant - and rather flourishes on partnerships and innovations for the learning continuity of children.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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