Getting on the Same Side: How to Optimize the Parent-School Partnership
Head of school Dr. Olaf Jorgenson and renowned Bay Area family therapist Sheri Glucoft Wong, authors of the new book “Raising Kids: Your Essential Guide to Everyday Parenting,” are leading workshops at the upcoming National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Annual Conference in Las Vegas, NV on February 22-24, 2023. They will present their presentation, "Getting on the Same Side: Optimizing the Parent-School Partnership,” twice during the conference to an audience of independent school teachers and school leaders from across the U.S.
As Glucoft Wong puts it, “Parents and teachers are like shift workers on the same job.” At school, students are best supported when parents and teachers are a team, coordinating to promote the social, emotional, and intellectual development of children.
Such a parent-school partnership is vital, but it can be strained at times, particularly when there’s a breakdown in communication that compromises trust between parents and the teachers and administrators responsible for the care of their children. At these times, the relationship often defaults to an “us-them” posture.
When teachers deliver difficult news to parents about their children’s progress or behavior, parents may engage in “blaming the messenger,” making teachers wary about sharing student concerns with parents. And while teachers and school leaders are extensively prepared to address the many challenging ways kids sometimes behave, they receive virtually no training that helps them relate to parents, and especially discontented ones.
The partnership also depends on parents understanding their role in their child’s school life. Fundamentally, as Glucoft Wong says, “Home is the training ground for being in the world. When parents create an environment at home that provides social-emotional skills children need in school—things like following directions, taking turns, overcoming setbacks—then their children are much more likely to have a positive school experience.”
When parents are uncertain or confused about their role at school and become over-involved or under-involved in their children’s school life, however, it complicates the partnership. Glucoft Wong and Jorgenson explain in the book, “School is your children’s world away from home, so your involvement there needs to be right sized and well placed: not too much and not too little, enough to be supportive without getting in their way of finding their own way.”
Consequently, the parent-school partnership that’s integral to helping children thrive at school is sometimes elusive, even for well-meaning educators and parents. Learning how to transform the “us-them” mindset into a “we” perspective is key to building a bridge between parents and school.
With this bridge in place, parents learn from teachers who are experts in the developmental attributes of children in a certain age range, who can serve as advisors and resources for parents. When parents create a home environment that reflects the kinds of expectations and structure their children experience at school, they partner with teachers to create a consistent, caring, supportive context for learning. In turn, teachers benefit from the expertise parents offer about the learning profile and needs of their children, and parents become an important resource for teachers as well. These are key aspects of a healthy parent-school partnership.
Glucoft Wong and Jorgenson will cover these points and more with attendees at the conference as they help educators learn strategies for building the parent-school partnership. Participants in their workshops will also receive a complimentary copy of “Raising Kids.”
“Raising Kids” is available for purchase at all major booksellers and can also be enjoyed as an audiobook.