Parents are undeniably a child's first teachers as babies utter their first words and take their first steps. As socialisation and education continues in schools, parents and teachers become the ''significant others''. The modelling in their complementary roles is absorbed by children. Sociologist Emile Durkheim maintains ''there is not a moment in the day when the generations are not in contact with their elders - when they are not receiving from them some educational influence''. The parent-teacher-student relationship can deliver a collaborative partnership, linking home and school in a climate of trust and respect. When parents and teachers are united in their aims and expectations, children enjoy coming to school and learning in a safe environment. Ultimately, children become more effective members of society. ‘How teachers build and form relationships with children and their families matters, and contributes to children’s sense of belonging and well-being’ (Blaise & Nuttall, 2011, p. 167). Strong partnerships between teachers, children, parents and communities build positive relationships and enhance understandings. ‘Learning outcomes are most likely to be achieved when early childhood teachers work in partnership with parents’ (DEEWR, 2009, p.12). Effective partnership involve: * Trust.
* Reciprocal respect and valuing of each other’s knowledge. * Sensitivity to diverse perspectives where each partner can share insights. * Ongoing, open, respectful communication.
* Recognition of the partner’s strengths.
* Shared decision making.
Partnership between teachers and parents underpin everything that happens in an educational setting (Centre for Community Child Health, 2001; DEEWR, 2009; Stonehouse & Gonzalez-Mena, 2008) and is an essential component of quality education and care. MEANT BY TEACHERS AND PARENTS PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMME
Partnerships are built on open communication. It is not necessary that both partners agree, but that they are able to appreciate each other’s perspectives. Stonehouse and Gonzalez-Mena (2008) asserted that effective partnership requires a genuine acceptance and acknowledgement of diversity where parents and teachers will sometimes have conflicting views. Rather than viewing disagreements as a problem, they should enable different perspectives to be shared; new questions asked as new means of investigation proposed (Lyotard, 1984). When teachers are open to parents’ perspectives, power relations shift from teachers as experts instructing parents about an issue, to parents and teachers co-authoring little narratives (Lyotard, 1984; Hughes & Mac Naughton, 2000). These little narratives, or stories, are relevant to local contexts, and acknowledge the expertise of all participants and the complexity of issues. Open discussions such as these can lead to progress and innovation, as well as strengthened relationships (Stonehouse & Gonzalez-Mena, 2008). Partnership are different to parent involvement. Parents’ involvement may include fundraising, parent’s help in the classroom, or involvement in the parent group in a management or advisory capacity. Family or parents’ involvement generally does not empower family members to be active decision makers as the teachers are the ones with the power (Stonehouse & Gonzelez-Mena, 2008). This involvement is generally at the invitation of staff and on the teacher’s terms and is concerned with what the parent can do for the setting or how the setting can better educate the parents. Teachers are viewed as the experts and are the ones with the power in the relationship (Mac Naughton & Hughes, 2003). These are what Mac Naughton & Hughes called “conforming relationships”, because the aim is for parents and children to conform to setting expectations. Parents who share the teacher’s culture, language and values are generally more likely to become involved than those...
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