As many schools can agree on, strong parent-teacher relationships can bring about a lot of benefits for students. Over the years, multiple studies, reports, analyses, and books have delved deeply into how a student’s family life can affect their performance in school. A review of the existing literature on the topic revealed that one of the most accurate predictors of student achievement is the level of involvement students’ families have in their school lives. Family involvement can drive critical contributions to academic performance from the student’s early childhood to their high school years. Students who are undergoing interventions to improve their outcomes also have better chances of succeeding if their families are highly involved in the said process.
However, it takes more than just a passionate teacher and a present parent to create strong parent-teacher ties. The school itself plays a key role in cultivating the partnership between parents and teachers, and consequently giving students the best chance of succeeding in life. To this end, academic institutions in Singapore are making use of the following strategies to encourage parents to connect with their children’s teachers, stay on top of their child’s progress, and be active participants in the academic community:
Creating Opportunities for Parent-Teacher Collaborations
Local and international schools in Singapore make use of a variety of communication tools to keep parents in the loop and on top of their children’s activities in school. Some schools send weekly emails and newsletters, others have dedicated apps for disseminating information about community activities, and there are also those that actively maintain and engage with their social media followers to get their message across. However, it’s not enough to just keep parents in the know. To raise the chances that a student’s parents will get involved in their studies, it’s important for schools to offer parents an opportunity to participate in school activities.
This can be done by inviting parents to take on specific parts in achieving the goals that the academic community has. Stamford American School, for example, has an active parent-teacher association where parents can support charity events, volunteer to help out in the classroom, or welcome other families to the school community. These activities give parents the opportunity to interact with teachers and help shape their children’s learning environment. Given the opportunity to interact, parents and teachers have an excellent chance to get to know each other better, recognize each other’s expertise, and acknowledge their shared concern for the student’s performance and well-being.
Celebrating Good News and Achievements as a Community
Strengthening the connection between parents and teachers does not stop at inviting the parents to join occasional activities. It’s also important to involve parents and teachers, as well as the rest of the school community, in celebrating the achievements of the school and its students.
Schools can motivate parents and teachers to continue working well together by acknowledging the goals they’ve met and sharing the results of their efforts. If the school has done well in academic or athletic competitions, for example, it can recognize how supportive parents were during their children’s training sessions and reviews. This can encourage parents to further their participation and strengthen their relationship with their children’s teachers and coaches.
Cultivating a Culture That Values a Personalized Approach to Education
Just like everywhere else in the world, parents in Singapore can be incredibly busy. Many of the professionals who live and work in the city-state often have full schedules, and it can be a challenge to get them to pay attention to school events or initiate conversations with teachers. One sure way of getting them to listen is ensuring that they receive personalized information about their children’s performance in school. While many parents don’t have the time or energy to focus on an entire class, they’re often all-ears when it comes to addressing their kids’ specific needs.
The school and its teachers can maximize this approach by keeping a close eye on the individual growth of the students in their care. Some schools keep a meticulous record of their students’ activities for the day and periodically share this information with their respective parents through calls, messages, or in-person conversations. Using a more focused and personalized approach to tracking student progress, parents and teachers can work together to identify each student’s strengths and weaknesses. This, in turn, makes it much easier for parents and teachers to support each other’s efforts at home and in school.
Establishing Neutral Ground Where Parents and Teachers Can Converse Freely
Home visits are a great way for teachers to get to know their students’ family environment. In the same vein, parents can also visit their children’s classrooms to find out more about their learning environment. These activities can present parents and teachers in a new light and help them appreciate what they each do to ensure a better outcome for the students.
But it’s also important for both parties to see each other in a neutral environment. After all, it’s possible for a teacher to feel uncomfortable in a student’s home, and some parents feel the same way when entering a classroom. By meeting and talking in a neutral location, parents and teachers can converse freely and discuss how they can both support the students in their care.
Schools in Singapore understand the need for such a space and have made efforts to incorporate neutral spaces in their designs. That’s why Stamford American School has a dedicated parent cafe in its Woodleigh Campus where parents and teachers can meet and converse freely. In such places, it’s much easier for both parties to see each other on equal grounds, ask each other questions, and focus on the student’s academic performance and how they’re faring as a member of the school community.
Encouraging Both Parties’ Efforts to Communicate More Consistently
Finally, schools can make it easy for teachers and parents to connect by establishing formal channels of communication. Keeping in touch with parents is a time-consuming task, and the school can support a teacher’s efforts to communicate with parents by giving them the means to do so easily.
Perhaps the school can give teachers a sufficient amount of time to accomplish this task and provide them with a gadget specifically for communicating with the parents and the school. The school can also look into applications that the entire academic community can use to communicate with each other. Using these tools can help teachers and parents touch base more regularly and keep each other updated on students’ activities, challenges, and accomplishments.
The school plays a key role in fostering a strong relationship between parents and teachers, and implementing these strategies can help academic institutions fulfill this particular goal. By working together, all three parties can help ensure that their students have the best chance of achieving their goals, improving their outcomes, and leading happy and memorable school lives.