A family-school partnership can look different at every school. However, the underlying foundations of a successful partnership are the same. First, there must be a solid, positive relationship between the administrators/teachers and parents/families. Trust must be established through time. When parents feel their opinions are valued, they are more apt to get involved in the education of their child. As our core beliefs state, it is the school that must initiate the positive connection to families. Growing up, some parents may have had a negative experience with school, and those feelings can be transferred to the child and school. It is imperative that schools reach out to all parents to make them feel welcomed and valued.
Secondly, everyone must realize parents are their child’s best first teacher. They can provide valuable insight to their student’s behavior and emotions. By administrators/teachers giving the parents recognition of their importance allows students to see their parents in a different light. Students will recognize the teacher is working together with his or her parent to ensure their achievement in school. As a result of creating an ally with the family, teachers can teach more effectively, children can learn more, and the school will be more successful.
Finally, parents should be included in policy making decisions when it directly affects students. They can give input as to realistic expectations and time constraints. If the school receives Title 1 funding, the parents must be consulted on revising the Parent School compact on a yearly basis. Other documents to be reviewed by parents and staff include the homework policy, school and district improvement policies, and the classroom visit policy. By having a mutual respect for families and schools, everyone wins!