We can safely say that for most of our children, the two main parts of their environment are the family and the school, hence the importance of good communication between home and school. There is an abundance of literature about how parents can raise happy and adjusted children, as well as, how schools optimize the learning of their students. However, there is not much focus around how parents and school can collaborate effectively to help children become well adjusted and well functioning adults. Traditionally, society has dealt with problems in a way that each difficulty is solved mainly in their own separate setting. However, being a systemic therapist working in a school, I agree with J. Bowlby (1985), “when you separate parts of a dynamic whole you lose the chance to see how the parts of the system are interacting and endlessly influencing each other.”
Research has shown that children who have positive and secure relationships with their parents are able to explore the world feeling safer. This will help children to be curious, to think and therefore to learn better. Insecure children are less autonomous, therefore more likely to have emotional difficulties, which can then be reflected in difficulties concentrating or socializing with peers. As a result, it´s important for learning that children have secure and reliable relationships with adults in their lives. As J. Byng-Hall (2003) pointed out, we can apply some of this principles to the relationships between home and school: “children feel more secure if they sense that each group is supportive of the other and therefore feel more secure to explore and to learn. However, if children, especially those in difficulties sense that there is mistrust between the various systems (family and school) their capacity to feel secure in each may be reduced and learning can suffer. Collaboration between all the adults is important for children”.
When we think about collaboration we are not referring to lack of conflict or having to agree on every issue. Similarly, to the dynamic between a father and a mother, there is going to be different opinions, which is healthy and makes children’s experiences richer. What is important is to create a context, where there is good will and each member of the group (it could be child, parents, teacher, school management, special needs professional) can see the problem from the point of view of the other member, which requires that each is given an opportunity to describe what he/she thinks and feels. From my experience, when this happens we can reach solutions that are more co-operative and constructive.
At PaRK IS we believe that collaboration, open communication and regular contact between home and school will contribute to raise happy and confident learners!
Inês Moreira Rato | Family and Systemic Psychotherapist
The Family and the School – A joint systems approach to problems with children. (1985) (2003). Edited by E. Dowling & E. Osborne, Karnac