In the field of school psychology, we are trained to invite parents and families into the process as true contributors. It is the position of the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), that parents and families be collaborative partners, in what NASP refers to “home-school collaboration”, in the promotion of positive academic and social-emotional functioning. Further, NASP promotes active parent and family involvement with a belief that working together toward shared goals with shared power is essential to the effective home-school collaboration and student success. Likewise, Seneca and the All-In program hold similar sentiments regarding parents and families and seek to work with schools, networks, and other community-based organizations that are committed to “pursuing the unbounded potential of each child and family.”
While this type of partnership can be challenging, due to differing expectations, goals, and communication patterns, it is essential to student success. When there are differences and those differences aren’t addressed in a meaningful way, a lack of communication is likely to ensue which further divides these two important entities. While parents hold a responsibility to work with schools in the promotion of problem-solving approaches to ensure positive student outcomes, schools must also take ownership of their role and engage in reflective practices to improve their approach with parents and families.
My recent experiences have made me greatly reflect on my past interactions with parents and families as a provider. It caused me to think through how I’d want to interact with parents and families moving forward so that my approach takes these practices into consideration. I want to work to think through my approach so that the work I do with parents and families allows for equity. That means thinking about the language I use and the messages I provide to parents and families. With that being said, below are some tips or considerations for supporting parents and families. Additional resources are provided in links below.
- Listen to the parent and the strategies/interventions that have been successful for them at home and in other settings.
- Check in with previous teachers or adults that experienced successful relationships with the child previously. Add them to your student planning team.
- Build a strong trust-based relationship with the child and parent.
- Positive communication is KEY! If a child is experiencing daily challenges, make sure to develop a system for sharing ALL the great things that child too. Communication with parents shouldn’t only report difficulties.
- Be strategic and thoughtful in your messaging. While a child may be experiencing a difficult or challenging time it’s not always pathological, a child may simply be going through several major transitions and just need love and support.
Here is a link to the El Dorado SELPA’s page on parent resources.
NASP’s position statement on Home-School Collaboration.
Meka Tull, Director of School Partnerships