In this article, family—school partnerships are discussed as a viable and essential way to increase the opportunities and supports for all pupils to enhance their learning progress and meet the recent demands of schooling.
This paper reviews the importance of the existence of a strong link between school, as an institution, and the families of the direct beneficiaries of the education process, as the improvement of this aspect will definitely lead to the prevention of school dropout phenomena as well as the integration of students with an antagonistic behavior to school rules. Moreover, this article also contains an example of an activity carried out in a workshop, the feedback received from the parents (participants) being an extremely good.
The results of the activity turned out to be remarkable, in the sense that parents were extremely pleased with the tasks they received, they managed to communicate very well, verbalize and propose solutions for different conflict situations.
Key words: school, education, family, communication, values, principles, partnership, opportunities, learning progress; family-school partnership
The relationship developed between the teacher and the child’s family (parents) is very important and, in this context, the way in which the teaching staff is positioned in relation to the child’s parents defines the perspectives of collaboration between school and family.
Contemporary society reflects more and more the real problems of the educational system. The issue of education has become exclusive and one-dimensional.
Deficiencies in a child’s education are argued either by the lack of quality education, or by the failure of parents as the children’s first educators. The main support in achieving the child’s early education is represented by the family environment. Practically, children’s education is seen as a responsibility that in the first years of life belongs to the family and, subsequently, is transferred to the school institution and implicitly to all educational actors.
Parents and the entire family are the main „trainers of the little offspring”, they are the only examples of behaviour that children observe in the first years of life. The family environment is defining for the child’s first steps in the educational system. His/her initialization of solidarity, acceptance and assumption of the role of „pupil”, depend to a great extent on the conditions in which he/she lived, all these aspects representing points of reference when it comes to the acceptance of new colleagues and teachers.
Well, the child takes any act of the parent as a benchmark of normality, not having the ability to decant these acts. Thus, the child will have the impression that his/her parentsʼ reaction, action or attitude is the correct, just or indicated one. He/She will consider that „that’s how it’s done.”
So, the experience of the first years of life shapes what we become – physically, emotionally and socially, the family climate decisively influencing not only the child’s personality, but also the behaviour of the future adult.With these aspects in mind, school must find answers to the question: Why is it important to communicate with parents and students’ families?
In order to provide a pertinent answer, we must start from several important aspects such as:
- parents are legally responsible for their children’s education;
- school is only a part of the child’s education; a good part of education takes place outside of school;
- parents’ attitude towards school results significantly influences children’s intrinsic and extrinsic motivation;
- parents and teachers have the right to influence the educational activity coordinated by the school institution.
However, most parents cite „lack of time” as the main reason for not being actively and continuously involved in their children’s education. Complementarily, there are people who attribute this task exclusively to the school institution, respectively to the teachers, believing that „this is the school’s responsibility, not mine” or considering themselves worthless in this process („the school knows better than me what needs to be done”).
Regardless of the justifications, it is imperative that parents are aware of the need for their involvement in the educational process and relate to important values and principles for the harmonious development of their own children.
Learning is a fundamental form of human activity. The main purpose of the instructive-educational process is to optimize the quality of education, a fact observable through the current orientation towards the development of thinking, towards filtering information through one’s own decanter of thinking and towards „learning how to learn” efficiently, intelligently and creatively. So, we must all be aware of the need to develop serious partnerships between school and the childrenʼs families, because in this way students will benefit from all their support. At the same time, parents can decide to be actively involved in extracurricular activities and become working partners in a more responsible and assumed manner.
Moreover, it is extremely important to focus our attention on the needs and interests of the indirect beneficiaries of education, the students’ parents. It is imperative to do everything possible to reduce the inversely proportional relationship between resources and needs, gradually transforming it into a directly proportional one.
Therefore, whenever we encounter communication problems with our students, we should carry out a case study regarding the background of the problem and try to prevent future conflict situations, by identifying the causal relationship underlying the students’ antagonistic attitude.
For example, we can plan workshops with parents, round tables, debates, and any other activities aimed at minimizing the absence of school-parent communication. At the same time, I truly believe that such actions are beneficial and help to prevent children from leaving school at an early age.
Our contemporary society insists more and more to prove that at the level of the education system there are many gaps in terms of adult education. The lack of strategies to motivate parents to get involved in the education of their own children and in the development of a partnership with the educational institution reduces the quality of the educational act and, at the same time, suppresses the children’s right to equal opportunities.
Further, we will present you two interactive activities, specially created for parents, activities that have proven to be a real success among those involved:
I. THE RAINBOW IN THE MIRROR
– The teacher asks the participating parents to answer 3 important questions for the current activity: Dear parents, please answer the following questions. Try to formulate short and eloquent answers.
• Why do people look at themselves in the mirror?
• Why is it important for people to know themselves?
• What is the difference between inner and outer beauty?
– Parents will be chosen randomly, by drawing lots, to present the answers in plenary.
WORK TASK: Draw the outline of your body. Look in the mirror and describe what you see (e.g. green eyes, round face etc.). Write the identified features on the outside of the outline. Choose seven words from the box below that you think represent important values for your inner beauty and write them inside the drawing. Highlight each word with a different color so you get your own rainbow of values. It motivates the choices made.
II. THE PICTURE OF MY CHILDHOOD
Step 1: The teacher asks the participants to think about their own childhood, to remember important events, scenarios that remained in their memory or people who influenced their lives in a positive sense. They are invited to use all the materials available and make a collage/ drawing that reflects the image of their childhood. The participants are encouraged to use the colours and all the materials needed in order to reproduce the emotions they experienced then.
Step 2: After 20 minutes of individual work, the participants’ works are arranged on the floor so that everyone can look at them. The teacher invites the participants to present the results of their individual work to the group.
Step 3: Activity analysis:
– What score would you give to this activity, on a scale from 1 to 5?
– How did you feel when you thought about your childhood?
– Who or what gave colour to your childhood?
– How did your parents manage to give you more confidence in your own strength?
-What are the similarities and differences between your children’s childhood and your childhood?
Over time, planning various work sessions with the students’ parents, I realized that our actions must be based on an integrated approach to the needs and interests of children, which implies the direct involvement of the entire community. Regardless of the intervention modalities, each school adheres to the same set of principles and values when it comes to school-family partnership:
- It is essential that parents have an active role in the education of their children, thus, what really matters is not their level of training, poor social condition, religion or ethnicity, but primarily the importance they give to the care and education of their own children ;
- What really matters is the little sprout-child, its well-being and future;
- There is no such thing as a difficult child, only difficult situations;
- It is fundamental, especially for a parent, to be supported in overcoming their low self-esteem.
At the same time, through this type of actions, school seeks to increase the involvement of parents in the education of children by adapting the curriculum to the needs of the learners and by constantly consulting their parents. Thus, one of the main objectives of these learning and awareness activities is to increase the ability of parents to meet the school’s initiatives and their implication in the projects, providing the premise for some beneficial exercises in the spirit of community development.
There are numerous reasons why this sort of collaboration is more than recommended:
- Parental involvement improves children’s school performance and leads to better behavior of children in the classroom.
- A parent can decisively influence a child’s attitude towards school, classroom behavior, self-esteem and motivation.
- Parents should remain equally involved in their children’s education, from preschool to high school inclusive.
- Appropriate training and availability of necessary resources can help parents get involved.
- The child’s reading exercises together with the parents significantly improve the child’s skills and that is why schools are actively looking for ways to involve the parents.
- Parental involvement benefits both children and parents. Parents will have a better understanding of the curriculum and school activities and communicate better with their children.
Specialized studies also reveal the fact that ” when parents are involved at school, the performance of all the children at school, not just their own, tends to improve. The more comprehensive and well planned the partnership between school and home, the higher the student achievement.” (Henderson and Nancy, 1995).
The level of parentsʼ participation influences the pupilsʼ results in a quite obvious percentage, in a positive sense. Therefore, education is a complex process and a difficult itinerary whose success depends on the collaboration between the two parts involved. Effective communication is the cornerstone of education. A number of research studies show that parental involvement in activities children’s learning positively influences their performance and motivation to a learn. According to Epstein (1992), the term school-family partnership is broader than the term parental involvement because it expresses „shared interests, responsibilities, investments, and overlapping influences” (p. 1139).
In conclusion, parental involvement in children’s education is fundamental. Only a balanced relationship between school and family, based on respect for healthy values and principles, leads to a quality and essential education for society.
Epstein, J.L. (1992). School and family partnerships. In M. Alkin (Ed.)
Gettinger, Maribeth; Guetschow, Kristen Waters.(1998). Parental involvement in schools: Parent and teacher perceptions of roles, efficacy, and opportunities. Journal of Research & Development in Education, Vol 32(1)
Henderson, A.T., and Nancy Berla. (1995). A New Generation of Evidence: The Family Is Critical to Student Achievement. Washington, DC: Center for Law and Education
Rudică, Tiberiu. (1981). Familia în faţa conduitelor greşite ale copiilor, Editura Didactică şi Pedagogică, Bucureşti