Benefits of a strong parent-school relationship
As a parent, you know your child better than anyone else does. Your child’s teachers will want to get to know your child too.
When you have a strong and respectful relationship with your child’s school and teachers, you’re in a good position to give them information to help your child get the most out of education. You and your child’s teachers can work together to support your child’s learning and wellbeing.
When everybody is working together in the best interests of your child, your child is likely to reap academic and social benefits, like:
- regular school attendance
- positive school results
- a positive attitude towards school
- good social and relationship skills
- a sense of wellbeing
- school completion
- progression to post-secondary education like TAFE, university or an apprenticeship.
You can help your child get the most out of school by communicating and building relationships with teachers, other parents and students from the very first day. This is better than having contact with your child’s school only when there’s a problem, either at school or in your family.
How to build a strong parent-school relationship
You can build a parent-school relationship in several ways:
- Say hello to teachers and other staff at school pick-up and drop-off times.
- Ask teachers for information or feedback about your child, and share your child’s special events or achievements outside school.
- Go to parent-teacher interviews and parent meetings.
- Check the school website, noticeboard and emails regularly.
- Be involved and help out in the school community in whatever ways you can.
- Learn more about the school by looking at its annual report, website, newsletters and so on.
- Go to school performances, school barbecues, cultural or music events, school fairs and parent seminars.
Not all parents can be involved in school as much as they’d like, but you can still let your child know that school is important to your family. Talking about school with your child, being warm and friendly at school events, and being positive about the school and its staff sends the message that you value education and are interested in what’s happening for your child at school.
Your parent-school relationship includes contact with school staff, as well as your relationships with other parents and your child’s friends. The parent-school relationship might change as your child gets older, or when things change at work or at home.
Parent-teacher interviews at primary school and parent-teacher interviews at secondary school are one of the main ways that many parents find out how their child’s education is going. Interviews can be a great way of getting all the important people – you, the teacher and your child – talking together.
It’s important for the teacher and school to know about anything that’s affecting your child’s wellbeing. For example, your child might have a health condition, you might be concerned about bullying, or there might have been a change in your family, like a death, separation or divorce.
Getting involved at primary school
There are often many opportunities to be involved in primary schools, because they tend to be smaller than secondary schools. You can get involved at your child’s primary school by:
- volunteering – for example, helping with classroom activities like reading groups or excursions or in the school canteen
- attending parent groups or committees – for example, school councils, parents and citizens committees, or building and maintenance sub-committees
- working on school fundraisers and events – for example, school fairs and raffles
- doing social activities with other parents and families
- helping with after-school clubs like chess, or coaching school sports teams
- attending events like assemblies, concerts and Book Week parades.
Getting involved at secondary school
Secondary schools are usually larger and more complex systems than primary schools, and your child will probably have different teachers for different subjects.
Who do you talk to first?
You can start by finding out who your child’s home-room (or home-group, pastoral or form) teacher is. The home-room teacher is usually the person responsible for tracking your child’s overall progress at school, by monitoring your child’s attendance, behaviour and academic progress.
Knowing the year coordinator(s) and individual subject teachers is also important. Speaking to student wellbeing or support staff like counsellors or asking for a referral to an educational psychologist might help if you need extra support or expertise.
Attending school information nights can help you work out who in the school is responsible for different aspects of your child’s care and education.
If the school has a website, this is another way of keeping in touch with what’s going on at school. It might also let you directly email or message your child’s teachers.
Changing relationships as your child grows
Your child will start developing more independence, which might affect the way you communicate and connect with your child’s school. You’ll probably have less physical involvement with the school. And your child might be able to take more responsibility for communicating with their teachers.
Even if you’re less involved with the school, you can keep creating a supportive environment for education at home. This might involve simply talking about schoolwork with your child, discussing your child’s career plans and ambitions, or talking through the links between your child’s schoolwork and future goals.