By Joyanne James. “I’m interested in the child’s well-being!” say both the parent and teacher during every argument. But, while words are being exchanged all term, the child’s well-being is suffering.
The relationship between the parent and teacher is just as crucial as the one between the child’s mother and father. In a home with constant conflict, the child develops an identity crisis.
The child enters the school system and learns to cope with this identity crisis with the help of teachers, friends, teammates, and a guidance counsellor.
When home conflicts with school
Whether children come from a functional home or not, they enter functional schools with a system designed by professional educators.
The school prepares children academically with reading, math and science for writing exams. It prepares them socially with group work, drama and sports for becoming functional people in the real world.
Just like when you are counting, the number 3 can only be said after you say 1 and 2. The school is number 3 depending on parent 1 and parent 2 at home to do their part.
A break-down in the mother-father relationship at home means that the teacher will be receiving a child with issues from the get-go.
As much as single parents would like to believe that their issues have absolutely no effect on their children, the truth is, teachers deal with these issues daily.
What the parent and teacher do wrong
The first problem of a parent and teacher is playing the blame game. Instead of acting like the mature adults in the child’s life, they criticise each other in front of the child.
Not doing anything
Secondly, it is a problem when the parent is not involved and the teacher does not reach out. Many parents leave it up to the school to do everything and many teachers may fear conflict or remain unconcerned because “life is too short”.
Thirdly, a major problem for a child is the contradicting views of parent and teacher on parenting and teaching. A parent who disagrees with a teacher’s techniques may voice this to the child. A teacher who disagrees with the parenting style at home may also express this to the child.
Fourthly, there is nothing more irritating for a parent and teacher than to be told how to do their job. Conflict arises when a parent tells a teacher how to teach and the teacher informs the parent on how to be a parent. This only stirs up a hostile environment for the child both at home and school.
How conflict between parent and teacher affects a child
Being aware of the importance of having an excellent family-school relationship is the first step to understanding how parent-teacher conflict relates to student abilities.
While the parent and teacher play the blame game, don’t get involved, disagree with opinions, and micromanage each other’s jobs, the child is affected in several ways.
1. Loses respect for authority
Why would a child respect authority if the adults don’t even respect each other? When the authoritative figure at the home clashes with the authoritative figure at the school, the child sees this as nonsensical behaviour and chooses to respect none.
2. Falls back in school work
If the parent and teacher cannot create the inviting learning environment at home and school necessary for a student, then no school work gets done. The problem gets worse when they continue to point fingers and micromanage each other.
3. Withdraws from school culture
When a confused child withdraws from the culture of the school, he or she misses out on a lot of social benefits of the hidden curriculum. This offers social and cultural messages, unwritten rules and unspoken expectations, and unofficial norms, behaviours and values.
4. Has trouble making friends
A child with family-school conflict usually struggles to make friends. Children learn from observation. If they have no idea what it means to be polite when communicating with other people, then they feel clueless about socialising with other children.
5. Struggles to function as an adult
When all goes wrong with a child’s academic and social development in school, a dysfunctional adult is sent out into the world. Just because a parent and teacher refused to do the right thing, an adult now struggles with getting a job or keeping one, and having stable relationships with co-workers, life partners and children.
What a parent and teacher can do for a child
1. Let go personal issues
The most adult thing that a parent and teacher can do for a child is to let go all personal issues. Don’t let problems with your health, spouse, employer, landlord, or finances affect the way you handle the child’s needs.
2. Be a mature adult
A child needs role models, so the parent and teacher are supposed to be the epitome of what mature adults are supposed to be like. Be respectful to each other. Don’t be the reason that the child searches elsewhere for role models and ends up looking up to the wrong people.
3. Communicate properly
For the sake of the child, the parent and teacher relationship should be a professional one just like at any work place. You must listen without interrupting. Maintain respectful body language. Think before you speak. Ask for clarification and never assume anything. Also, respect different opinions.
4. Foster a sense of trust
A parent and teacher must foster a sense of trust in each other. If you feel confused as to why something is happening, simply trust that the person has a well-thought-out plan. Assure the person that you feel comfortable and leave it to be.
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5. Show appreciation
A parent and teacher can thank each other regularly, especially in front of the child. Showing appreciation stirs up happy emotions between both parent and teacher. This event creates a joyful environment needed for a happy child.
Avoid creating unnecessary problems for a child by having a great family-school relationship. Both parent and teacher must do their part and let go personal issues, be mature adults, communicate properly, trust each other, and show appreciation. A healthy parent-teacher relationship is crucial for a child’s well-being.
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