The relationships children form with peers are important, but the relationship that is most central in determining a young child’s success and development in school is the relationship between parents and teachers. Both parents and teachers play a pivotal role in educating a child, and a child is more likely to succeed in school when parents and teachers partner for the good of the child.
COVID-19 has undoubtedly had a social and emotional impact on children. At the same time, concerns over social justice and equality have intensified parents’ and teachers’ own emotions and fears, just as children are returning to school.
Openness, honesty, and trust are important qualities for children to see modeled in relationships. The relationships between parents and teachers are no exception. Here are some tips for developing healthy parent-teacher relationships during trying times.
Above all, parents and teachers must participate in honest and sincere conversations in which they can see, hear, express, and feel fears about social change. These conversations should be inclusive and safe, regardless of the social, racial, political, or economic status of the parent. By identifying commonalities, the space will feel safer for all involved.
Do not be afraid to explore and use the words racism, social justice, or inequality in your conversations. Though their practice can hurt, the words themselves do not.
Brainstorm ideas and activities on these topics for home and school lessons. This will provide consistent opportunities — in classrooms and at school — so children can see that parents and teachers are working as a team.
Ask children to draw images of what they see. Make it a routine to talk about ongoing situations in our communities. Ask questions like, “What did you see or hear?” You can also ask children how they felt about what they saw, and ask them to draw a picture of how they felt.
Regular parent and teacher check-ins will help ensure consistent efforts while reinforcing their shared goal of helping children succeed.