Miss Leong Sou Cheng, an educator at an international school, suggests how parents can support their child’s schools.
“Being involved in the school has given me a better insight into the school’s culture and policies, which some parents may not be as familiar with. It has also given me the opportunity to interact with school leaders, teachers, other staff and parents. I’ve also gained a better appreciation of teachers, their roles, difficulties and dedication to duty. My involvement in the school has certainly helped me to develop a better working relationship with them.”
- Mdm Kannagi Ibrahim, Then-Chairman of Evergreen Primary School’s Parent Support Group
The squeaking wheel gets the oil; there is more than a ring of truth to this proverb. When it comes to parent-teacher partnership, your goal however, is not just to make your presence felt, but leave the right presence.
Parent-teacher collaboration is not about “kiasu” parents barging into the school office and making demands. Armed with the information they need, they march in with a very specific aim, usually result-oriented, and will not back down until the school gives in to their requests.
Needless to say, after one storm of an incident, the parent may leave quite an impression; the entire school may possibly know this parent and the child by name. Any mention of the name will cause a teacher pay double the attention and check doubly hard on matters concerning the child. A teacher attends to between 200 - 300 students each week, and in an average class of 30 – 40 students, it may seem like not bad idea to leave such an impression. At least the child is getting the attention. You only had to do it once and you would leave an ineffaceable impression. The trouble is, however, that the reputation sticks.
Will your child really benefit from your actions? I think that children will benefit tremendously from the way their parents model positive interactions with others in the school, and from the positive connections they make along the way to support their children’s educational experience.
Your presence in school should be seen as a support. People should sense your genuine care for your child, other schoolmates and staff, such as when you help out at school events and socialise comfortably with others. For example, I heard that parents of Westview Primary School supported a sandwich-making event held at school; children learned how to make sandwiches, and also witnessed how their parents reached out to support other children. Parents of Tampines Primary School provide a reading support programme to help small groups of readers develop literacy skills.
Aside from putting in time and effort, relationship building is probably one of the most vital and difficult skills to master. So I was heartened to hear about parents sharing their experiences and good practices with one another at a Parent Support Group (PSG) Conference. Parents can also participate in initiatives organised by PSGs and access resources shared on the MOE Facebook page and Schoolbag.sg, to understand more about effective partnership.
We are all different, and the dynamics of all partnerships will be different too. But with the same goal, and the right attitude, parents and teachers can close the gap and become strong partners in education. After all, it takes a village to raise a child.