The nature and the full understanding of the concept of collaboration with parents have been elusive due to the limited literature that comprehensively defines it. The study asserts that despite the inadequate definition of the concept, the implementation of the idea has had a massive impact on the education sector (Stefanski, Valli, & Jacobson, 2016). The improvement of the child well-being evidences the case while the development of the school in general and fostering of good relations between the learning institutions and the community as the parents form part of the society (Curwin, n.d.). The paper provides an overview of the concept of the concept, situating and contextualizing it in the process (Ellis, Lock, & Lummis, 2015). It then elaborates the concerns that have been raised by different stakeholders in the education sector and finally outlines that “approachability, honesty, listening relationships, sharing information, and working together” are critical to the success of the concept.
Collaboration with Parents
Overview of Collaboration with Parents
Education as a process is very complex and very demanding to the extent that no single stakeholder can be solely be tasked with the obligation of ensuring that the children or rather learners get the best education. The process through which teachers and the school administrations engage parents and guardians in the learning process is what is known as collaboration with parents. The procedure may take many forms which the parents may take either passive or active roles in the learning life of their children. The collaboration process recognizes that the education and the development of the children do occur only in the classrooms but also extends to the homes of the children. Historically, the collaboration with parents has been seen as a measure that is taken by both parents and teachers to aid weak children (weak academically) to improve their grades. But this has since changed as the school in the progressive era is considered a central institution within the society and therefore, a more extensive involvement of parents, teachers, the government and the school administration is being advocated for by educationists. Michelle Ellis, Graeme Lock, and Geoff Lummis explain that parents form an integral part of a child’s education and the schools and other school stakeholders should involve parents in the process of providing education to the learners (Ellis et al., 2015). The points of interaction between the teachers, the school administration and the parents may be during formulation of school rules, making suggestions on the best ways to improve the conditions of the learning environment. Amanda Stefanski, Linda Valli, and Reuben Jacobson assert that the teachers and parents collaboration can be carried out through parents conferences, parents providing advice to teachers, teachers advising parents and use parent-teacher collaboration forms (Stefanski et al., 2016). They assert that however much a teacher is experienced her or she does not stop learning and collaborating with parents to avail this learning opportunity. Fettig and Ostrosky (2011) argue that working with parents is a means through which people tasked with providing education to the learners try to manage or reduce the challenging behaviors of learners. They suggest that there is no better way of managing challenging children behavior than involving the parents of the children. As a result, the study explores whether involving parents in dealing with challenging children to facilitate continuity of learning beyond the classroom walls.
Michelle Ellis, Graeme Lock, and Geoff Lummis describe approachability, honesty, listening relationships, sharing information, and working together as the key features of collaboration with parents. They explain that the activities had a positive effect on the education services that the students or learners received (Ellis et al., 2015). Children learning in institutions where collaborative programs have been rolled out, the learners’ development not only in academic but also mental and social aspects of their lives significantly improved. Stefanski, Valli, and Jacobson (2016) on their part view collaboration with parents as a partnership where each partner has equal rights and contribution towards a common goal which is ensuring that the child receives the best education services and therefore modeled into a responsible future citizen of the country. They explain that the collaboration with parents if carried out properly by the school administration and the other parties involved is productive and leads to the support for the student learning, improve the school, and strengthen the ties between schools, the parents and the community around the schools.
Application of The Concept of Collaborating with Parents Within Classrooms
The concept of collaborating with teachers without programs for implementation remains abstract and has no positive impact on the style and the learning process of students (Santana, 2014). To turn the aspiration and the dreams of many educationist, school management and teachers have adopted programs and put in place mechanisms to ensure that the classroom becomes one big family of parents, teachers and students or learners whereby the parents and the teachers share ideas on how to prioritize and improve the education of the children. Richard Curwin argues that the concept can be applied in the classroom by the teachers welcoming the parents into the learning environment. He says that the teachers should adopt a mechanism where they call the parents at least once a week to provide them with updates on the progress of their kids and also give advice to the parents on how to manage the learners while out of the school compound (Curwin, n.d.). Proactive communication between the parents and the teachers is another method through which the concept is put into action within the classrooms. Active discussion allows the parents to tell or alert the teachers about events occurring at home that might influence the learning process of a child. Through proactive communication, both parents and teachers can prepare ahead and ensure that students are cushioned against activities that may interrupt their learning process.
In my classroom, the teachers and the parents have become team players. They have stopped heaping blames on each other and like athletes in a basketball game come to understand that they have different roles to play in the education system. Though the roles might be different, they are all aimed at ensuring that the child becomes a responsible and productive member of the society. Therefore, parents and teachers have become team members who work in a synchronized or coordinated manner to support the education of children. Further, being team players allows them to pass the same message to the learners and avoid creating confusion. The teaming idea is only useful if there is clear and effective communication between the teachers and the parents.
Another way through which the concept has been put into action is through parent-teacher conferences. During these events, the parents and teachers are brought together to discuss the academic and social welfare of the learners (Adams, Harris, & Jones, 2018). The forum provides the teachers and the parents with a forum to iron out issues and also it is a platform for open communication. It is at these conferences that the parents can debate and decide on the best ways that they can utilize the resources at their disposal to ensure that the children interest is well addressed. Open houses are also another way through the interaction between teachers and parents is enhanced. The open houses provide the parents and the teachers and the students with a bonding session that makes the fabric that holds them together stronger. Application of the concept of collaboration with parents has the effect of promoting inclusivity of all parties or stakeholders in the process of imparting knowledge on learners (“Building Parent-Teacher Relationships,” 2013). It helps the parties understand that the process is teamwork and no single person can be tasked with the responsibility of education. Further, children belong to the society and the state broadly speaking.
Social Concerns Within the Teacher-Parent Collaboration
Issues and social concerns are inevitable within any setting where human beings interact. The collaboration between the parents and the teachers is not different. Just as any other social interaction setting, it is plagued with a lot of issues, some of them being social concerns. Some of the concerns that have been raised involving the collaboration with parents are whether it is ethical not have a clear boundary between teaching and parenting. Most teachers find it offensive when parents become too much involved in school activities. Some teachers also feel undermined and therefore goes zoon to create barriers to such collaboration by not create time and an environment in which the collaboration may take place. The main question, therefore, is where the boundary between the roles of the parents and the teachers end or begin. The study stipulates that the two are complementary and support each other. Willemse, Thompson, Vanderlinde, and Mutton (2018) assert that the preparation of teachers to adopt a more collaborative approach to education has been problematic due to the threat that the teachers perceive to be aimed at their career. According to Santana (2014), the change to a more market-oriented society has led to many parents having little time to spend on the collaboration process They assert that the continued reliance of schools on the traditional methods of interactions between teachers and parents is to be blamed for the small number of parents and teachers who adopt the collaboration process.
Other authors, such as Schultz and White, argue that the collaboration between teachers and parents may sometime lead to complicated relationships or unhealthy relationships between parents and the teachers. They assert that left unregulated or with no guidelines the relationship between teachers and parents may get out of hand and the child interest ceases to be the pressing issue when the parent and teachers start to have an emotional connection (Schultz, Sreckovic, Able, & White, 2016). To the authors, the schools should consider having regulations in place to ensure that the collaboration is solely to promote the child’s wellbeing. Another issue that has been raised in regards to the collaboration between parents and teachers is how the children with special needs or disability are to be handled within the entire collaboration spectrum. The children with disability are to be within a stronger collaborative forum as they need special and tailored attention. The teachers and the parents may be required to go an extra mile to ensure that such kids are not only comfortable but the education facilities are structured in a manner that enables them to access them. The children are to be afforded reasonable accommodation.
Socio-economic class is another social concern that has been outlined as a determinant in the collaboration process. Studies show that most parents are considered to be on the lower side of the socio-economic spectrum are more likely to collaborate with the teachers when compared to the wealthy parents (Vandegrift ; Greene, n.d.). Finally, there is a problem as to the proper definition of the parent involvement in the learning process. Scholars have hardly defined the extent of their participation. The collaboration with a parent should be established and to facilitate the setting of limits.
Child education is an essential aspect of the process of development of children. More emphasize therefore needs to be put in the process (Margaritoiu ; Eftimie, 2011). Collaborating with parents has been identified as one of the methods that improve the well-being of the child. Working with parents is a complex process that involves balancing the needs of the children, respecting the teaching profession and allowing the parents to have access to the learning environment (Stefanski et al., 2016). If effectively rolled out the process doe improves not only the well-being of the child but also improvs the school and fosters a better relationship between the society and the learning institutions. More research needs to be carried out on the definition of the collaboration with parents. Rethinking of the process of parents’ intervention in the learning process should be done. For the collaborative process to be effective; the parents should be committed to the process and respect the teaching profession while the teachers should create a friendly environment where the parents can be comfortably accessing the learning institutions (Ellis et al., 2015). Above all, the collaborative process is based on honesty, approachability, listening relationships, sharing information, and working together from both the teachers and the parents.
Collaboration with parents: the teaming up of parents and teachers to share ideas and beliefs on how to promote the well being of the children
Child wellbeing: the proper physical, mental, economic and social development of a child or the protection of the child interest
Parent intervention: the measures that are taken up by parents to ensure the wellbeing of the child.
Progressive era: this is the period that was marked by activism and demand for social reforms
Reasonable Accommodation: change of the education environment in a way that allows the persons with disability to utilize such institutions’ facilities.