Home-School Partnerships

I was pleasantly surprised when Rae brought back a home learning pack from her Montessori school! The pack consists of letter cards, picture cards, picture booklets, as well as an observation checklist of her progress! What’s more there was a simple Montessori instruction sheet, to give parents step by step guidance on how to use the learning pack.

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To begin, we laid out the letter cards on the Montessori Mat. For demonstration, I traced each letter, say out the sound of each letter, and then the name of the letter.  Rae repeated what I did for each letter, with much focus and attention. Next I placed the picture cards on the mat, and asked her for the beginning sound of each word represented. She could say out /t/, /t/, tree and /j/, /j/, jug, and so on.

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The final part of the phonics exercise was to match the beginning letter with the picture cards. To help her practice using the beginning sounds, we went through the words in the picture booklets. She particularly enjoyed turning the child-sized mini-board books and reading out the words to me.

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This entire experience reinforced my beliefs about home-school partnerships. I mean just being involved in Rae’s learning, and to duplicate the learning experience at home is so enriching!  As a parent, I can observe her learning style, take note of what she is learning in school, and reinforce it at home. Also I get to train her to focus on her tasks at home, not just in school. The observation checklist is a channel of communication between Rae’s teachers and me, which bridges our understanding of Rae’s development across different domains. Besides informal feedback from Rae’s teachers from time to time, I am really glad that the school saw the importance of home-school partnerships and encouraged me as a parent to be involved in my child’s learning. That way, learning good habits and dispositions are not confined to school, but is also nurtured at home.

Why is home-school partnerships important?

1.  According to Vygotsky, children can learn from different significant adults such as teachers, peers and parents. School and teachers are not enough to meet all the developmental needs of a child. Meaningful involvement from parents and family is essential in optimizing the development of a child.

2. Children learn moral and social values from both school and home. When there is a common understanding of what good behaviour is, the child knows what is expected of them both at school and home.  Both teachers and parents speak the same language and can be role models for children to emulate.

3. When parents are encouraged to play their part in their child’s development, the child feels a sense of stability and belonging when he or she is cared for, and nurtured by significant people in their lives. It builds their sense of self-worth and self-efficacy, which in turn impact their learning.

4. Open communication between teachers and parents can help to detect learning difficulties and weaknesses in a child as early as possible. Too often, parents found out much later that their child is facing developmental delays or even emotional issues, which could have been dealt with if it had been communicated earlier. Parents can also have a clearer understanding of the teacher’s efforts in helping the child, and work together with the teacher in tandem.

5. When there is a strong collaboration between parents and teachers, children’s progress is often accelerated and optimized, according to many research findings.

How can you strengthen your home-school partnerships?

1. Get involved and volunteer in their school activities and events like National Day celebration, Christmas Party.

2. Have an open channel of communication via email, phone and even chat groups.

3. Volunteer to be a reading mum or help out with the school library. I volunteer at Rae’s library every week, and she is really delighted to see me in school.

4. Ask the class teacher how you can contribute in school, like being a guest speaker to share your knowledge and expertise with the children or accompany children in their field trips.

5. Update and communicate to the teacher your concerns about your child’s learning, and arrange to make phonecalls or school visits to discuss with the teachers about  your child’s progress, and how you can help.

Of course, there are plenty of ways that the school can encourage parent involvement. Our part is to build that positive, reciprocal relationship with the teachers, and to let them know our willingness to be involved.  Teachers are more open to parents who are receptive to building strong home-school partnerships.

Do you think home-school partnerships are important? What are some of the ways you can strength that relationship with school?

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