In this challenging time of the Covid-19 pandemic it’s important for parents and teachers to explore how they can work together to maintain an enjoyable and safe experience for children at school. Both lockdown, which forced many schools to venture into the online learning experience, and the introduction of new hygiene protocols for the school environment have created some new dynamics for the parent-teacher relationship. Why not tackle this new parent-teacher (and parent-child) dynamic with the trusted three Rs of Responsibility, Respect and Reactions/Consequences?

Responsibility

During this time of change it’s important for children to be responsible for their belongings, which in turn helps them become more organised for school. This includes becoming familiar with the new routine of wearing masks, constant hand washing and social distancing. As a parent, talk to your child about how these changes are affecting their school experience. Invite them to share their feelings about how they are finding these changes, and how they can find ways to manage their feelings (See educational psychologist, Naomi Holdt’s blog for more information about this).

It’s important, especially with younger children, to grow them in taking responsibility of what to pack for school, and not to always rely on you as their parent to pack the right equipment/resources for the day.

Here’s an idea.

Make a chart for the week and then put a picture or word (depending on the age your child) of what they need to pack under that week day, e.g. a picture of their school books, mask, etc. Once reminded what they need, your child then needs to form a habit of checking the night before, against the chart, to ensure they have the right things, so that in the morning there isn’t a scramble or a fight. This can be a small aspect of their day which is controllable, in a world that can seem very ‘out of control’ at the moment.

Children are also more likely to get involved in these kinds of organisational tasks if you as a parent show your child that you trust them to do it properly without any micro-managing.

Respect

Parents have always been encouraged to teach their children manners and respect from a young age, so that children transfer this to all adults with whom they interact, e.g. saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, not snatching items when they are handed to the child by an adult, and greeting teachers and adult visitors as they walk past them in (and out of) the school grounds.

This concept of respect also applies for when parents and teachers need to meet about a child. As a teacher you are encouraged to make it clear to the parent from the get-go that they are working together with you. This is so that mutual respect can be fostered and that parents do not see you as judging their parenting style or choices. Rather that you are working together to find solutions and create the best possible learning and classroom experience for the child. Michael Thompson’s article, The Fear Equation provides helpful suggestions for building and maintaining this relationship. This transparency of respect will also be useful during times of online learning, when a parent may need to connect with you to help them with some work that their child has been assigned. Parents won’t feel embarrassed to ask for help if they know you understand the challenges of ‘home schooling’ and have established a relationship of mutual respect.

Reactions/Consequences

Children are always more comfortable knowing where the line is and what will happen if they cross it. Boundaries make children feel safe, and safety is of paramount importance in the present school climate. Parents should be supportive of the enforcement of rules at school and not seek to undermine a teacher’s authority.

Despite all the challenges of completing academic work, parents must trust that teachers will assess each case on merit and not enforce discipline unfairly.

I hope that a reminder of the wisdom of the three R’s has provided some food for thought and encouragement and insight into having great parent-teacher relationships. It is important to raise up children who understand the importance of responsibility, respect and who are willing to accept the consequence of their actions.

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