When it comes to our child, all logic goes out the window. We want the best and only the best for them. And sometimes, this tunnel vision can do more harm than good. Our Education Minister Chan Chun Sing even reminded parents that being difficult to teachers can deprive our children of “the ability to be resilient and overcome uncertainties”.

What we should do instead is to learn how we can help our child reach their fullest potential by working in collaboration with their teachers. Teachers do not work for us (the parents), and it is through working in harmony that we can bring the most value to our little ones.

For first-time parents, this is a whole new journey, with no training manual or trial lessons in parenting. We understand that you may not know how to navigate the boundaries of parent-teacher relationships. And that’s why, we’ve brought in an expert teacher, Mr Matt Lim to share more on how parents and teachers can partner up and build a positive relationship!

Am I A “Difficult” Parent? How to Build A Positive Parent-Teacher Relationship
Photo: Mr Matt Lim, Primary School Teacher, Winner of the 13th Caring Teacher Award

There’s No I in TEAM

Here are some ways parents can work with teachers to ensure a nurturing environment at home and in school:

  1. Open communication: This is a critical element in ensuring a positive and effective learning experience for children. Parents should maintain open and regular communication with their child’s teachers. This could be done via email or phone communication. They are valuable tools for facilitating ongoing collaboration to support the child’s holistic development. The ongoing engagement will also allow for early identification of any issues or challenges the child may be facing, be it academic, social, or emotional. The early detection will allow for timely intervention.
  2. Support homework and study habits: Parents could provide a conducive environment at home for this purpose and render their guidance when needed. It is also crucial to establish a daily routine that balances work, play and family time. A well-structured routine can help children feel secured and organised.
  3. Participate in school activities: Parents can volunteer their 3Ts- Time, Talents and Thoughts. Parents can contribute valuable time and talents to their child’s education in several ways. One of the most direct methods is through volunteering in the school. By dedicating their time and putting their wealth of talents into actions to assist teachers and support school programmes, parents can gain insights into their child’s learning environment, interact with other students and actively support the educational process. Parents can also share their thoughts by providing valuable feedback and ideas to teachers and their child’s school. The insights can lead to improvements in teaching methods, school policies and programmes.

Building Blocks To A Positive Parent-Teacher Relationship

Photo: Mr Matt Lim
Photo: Mr Matt Lim

Respect and empathy are building blocks of trust. When students feel respected and understood, they are more likely to trust their teacher’s guidance and support, and trust is essential for open communication. Having a transparent dialogue creates a safe space for students to express themselves freely. When students trust their teacher’s intentions and reliability, they are more likely to express their thoughts, concerns, and questions without fear of judgment. To understand, you must first practice active listening. When students feel that they are acknowledged and accepted, it creates a sense of emotional safety, which is essential for a positive relationship.

Similar to building positive teacher-student relationships, a positive parent-teacher relationship also anchors on respect and empathy. Here are 3Rs to developing a great parent-teacher relationship:

  • Respect for time: Acknowledging response times and availability will respect both the sender’s and receiver’s time. It recognises that everyone has commitments and responsibilities beyond school and home.
  • Respect for teachers: This is the fundamental aspect of creating a successful and harmonious educational environment for students. Teachers are trained professionals who possess extensive knowledge and experience in education. They have a deep understanding of pedagogy, curriculum design, and the unique needs of their students. Parents should trust that teachers are acting in the best interests of their children and have confidence in the professional abilities of teachers.
  • Resolve conflicts: Conflicts are not uncommon for young children. They get into arguments or disagreements for all kinds of reasons ranging from minor disputes over play to more complex issues involving friendships. Parents should let the school manage the conflicts for several reasons:

1. Neutrality: Teachers are impartial parties who can objectively assess and address conflicts, fostering an environment of fairness among students.

2. Learning opportunity: The conflicts provide valuable opportunities for learning and growth. Teachers can turn the situations into teachable moments, developing students’ problem-solving skills.

3. Over-involvement of parents in minor conflicts can at times exacerbate the issues: Allow teachers to handle the conflicts encourages a balanced division of responsibilities between school and parents.

About Mr Matt Lim, Caring Teacher Award Winner

Am I A “Difficult” Parent? How to Build A Positive Parent-Teacher Relationship
Photo: Mr Matt Lim

Mr Lim started teaching at 19 as a relief teacher. His class of students, at that time, had little interest in their studies and faced various personal challenges. Over the course of three months, he established a strong bond with those students, and it was a transformative experience. Years later, he reached a juncture where I needed to decide between becoming an engineer or a teacher. A message from one of the students in the class, Bee Guan, provided the inspiration I needed to confidently embark on the educational trajectory.

Over the last decade, Mr Lim met many “Bee Guan” in his teaching journey. Being able to make a difference to their lives fuel his commitment to education and inspire him to continue spinning the web of care to catch hold of any students that might fall through the crack. Like Newton’s Third Law, Mr Lim believes that for every effort he puts into teaching, students should experience a corresponding and positive response in their learning journey. Much like how an object remains at rest unless acted upon by an external force, students may remain stagnant without the right guidance and motivation.

He hopes to see his students exerting their own force upon the world – to become active contributors in their own lives, utilising the knowledge, skills, and values they have gained and pay it forward to make a positive impact in the communities and beyond.

This is in collaboration with Caring Teacher Awards 2024.

The Caring Teacher Awards is a biennial event that aims to acknowledge teachers in our schools who go beyond the call of duty, nurturing the holistic development of their students and ensuring their charges grow up to be confident, independent and resilient learners for our nation.

Started in 1996, the Caring Teacher Awards is organised by the National Institute of Education, Singapore with support from ExxonMobil Asia Pacific Pte Ltd and the Ministry of Education. Nomination for the award is now open till 12 January 2024 at www.cta.nie.edu.sg.

Learn more from Mr Matt Lim: Achieving Academic Success Starts With Active Participation At Home

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