Strong, respectful and ongoing relationships with your child’s teachers or early childhood educators not only helps your child get the most out of their education but working together also supports their mental health and wellbeing. There are many different benefits for children when parents and carers are involved in the school and working together with educators, such as:
- regular school attendance and achievement
- settling into school and school programs
- improved child-parent relationships
- learning positive social interactions through observation
- improved mental health and wellbeing through coordinated support.
Parents, carers and staff can feel comfortable to raise concerns and strengths, work through issues together and take a coordinated approach to support children’s mental health and wellbeing. Early childhood services and schools are also a good place to meet other families and make supportive connections to strengthen your parenting support network.
Making connections with education staff
Early childhood education service and school staff can offer a range of support and knowledge for parents and carers. They can help support children’s mental health through assisting parents with seeking professional support for mental health difficulties, providing information on health and community services, arranging information sessions and implementing support strategies in the education setting. Parents and carers also have a lot to offer education staff as they are the most important person/relationship in children’s lives and have a vast array of important information and knowledge that can be shared in supporting children’s mental health. Therefore, children can get better support and outcomes for positive mental health through coordinated support at home and in the education setting once strong connections and relationships have been built.
There are many ways parents and carers can make connections and build relationships with education staff. Some parents don’t have the opportunity to connect with education staff every day, so opportunities to engage in conversations, build the relationship and share information are important. Some of these opportunities include:
- transition periods (starting primary school, a new school year/teacher, a new term)
- parent/teacher interviews
- when there are changes at home to tell school about
- if you have worries or concerns about your child.
There are also many opportunities throughout the year for parents and carers to make connections, have further conversations and strengthen relationships with education staff, such as:
- talking to education staff at school, including informal conversations during drop-off and pick-up times depending on what suits the staff member
- assisting with story time, show and tell or class excursions
- volunteering at working bees, barbeques, canteen duty, fundraisers, career days or school fairs
- working in school/early childhood centre governance – for example, school councils, parents and citizens committees, or building and maintenance sub-committees
- helping with school clubs, programs or coaching
- spending time watching your child at school or the early childhood service (e.g. at the start of the day) and see how they interact with students and staff
- going to concerts and other events
- going to school/early childhood centre council or parent association meetings.
You can keep yourself up to date with opportunities at your child’s school or service by checking newsletters or emails, their website and noticeboard. All of these are opportunities for you to get involved, ask and respond to questions, provide information to education staff, and build your relationship. Once these connections and relationships have developed, it can make having discussions about children’s mental health concerns easier.
It is also important to note that early childhood services and schools have different rules about how parents should approach teachers, and Codes of Conduct for appropriate parent behaviour and engaging in respectful relationships. Parents and carers need to be mindful of these and investigate what the appropriate ways of connecting are at their school or early childhood education service.