Parents are the best teachers for children

Parents or teachers: who is the educator?

Parents and teachers complain that they have to take on each other's tasks - such as homework or educational measures. A parenting concept and all-day school could be the solution.

Actually, they all want the same thing: that the child learn something. But when it comes to the question of "How?", Agreement ends again. Parents often complain that they take on school tasks and - keyword homework - have to study with the children in the afternoon. Teachers, on the other hand, do not see why they should pay for the educational failures of their parents. The problem is not new. "Already 100 or even 200 years ago there were complaints about badly educated students in educational writings," says Tina Hascher, educational scientist at the University of Salzburg. However, the problem is now being discussed more intensely. On the one hand because of the increasing employment of women, on the other hand because it is no longer a taboo to talk about excessive demands.

And that is exactly what it is in most cases. This is why Hascher advocates that parents and teachers do not only seek contact when a problem already exists. "Then the relationship is negatively affected and you hold each other responsible for the problem, usually poor academic performance," says Hascher. On the other hand, both sides should be aware of their responsibility and share it - ideally at the beginning of the school year. But what does it look like, the right division between teacher and parent work? And can they even be strictly separated?


Personality development and values

This is even necessary for Markus Neuenschwander. “The school only makes sense if it takes on other tasks than the parents,” says the Swiss professor for educational psychology. Accordingly, the school is responsible for education and selection, while the parents are responsible for long-term relationships, values ​​and personality development. Obvious in theory. In practice, however, the effects of parents and teachers overlap.

In general, Neuenschwander rates the relationship between parents and teachers as good. “In individual cases, however, there can be dramatic conflicts. With younger teachers, parenting conflicts are a frequent reason for dismissal. ”He therefore advocates a concept of involving parents through discussions, workshops or parenting education. After all, at 30 to 50 percent, the attitudes and educational efforts of parents have a much higher impact on student performance than the way their teachers teach (around ten percent).

Parents must be welcomed and informed in the school and, if necessary, agree on measures. According to Neuenschwander, the involvement of parents should be based on a child-related, individual level. “According to our data, the formalized level in the form of parents' councils shows little effect.” Michael Schratz, Dean of the Faculty of Educational Sciences at the University of Innsbruck, also sees an increased need for good parent-teacher cooperation.

He sees problems primarily as having a historical basis. “In English-speaking countries, parents are part of the school. In the USA, compulsory schooling was required of them - while in our country it was used against the will of the parents who needed the children to work in the fields. "

In addition, teachers are forced to delegate certain tasks to their parents because of the half-day school. “According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, parents are responsible for bringing up children. The state must create the framework conditions for this, ”said Schratz. The state is currently not doing its job properly. As a result, parents and teachers are overwhelmed, and children from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds in particular suffer from this. Schratz sees a solution in the all-day school including support staff (social workers, psychologists) as well as in personalized lessons and an improved dialogue between parents and teachers, including mutual agreements.


Homework informs parents

Until all of this is done, teachers have to grapple with educational assignments and parents with homework. The latter can also be desired. "In one project in Switzerland, homework was done away with and reintroduced after two years at the request of the parents," says Neuenschwander. Homework is therefore still important - less for school success, but rather to inform parents about the children's learning content.

At a glance

Overwhelming is often the result of poor parent-teacher collaboration. Parents complain about supervision with homework, teachers about educational deficits. Education experts advise actively involving parents and strengthening the dialogue, and not only when problems arise: however, profound changes are necessary. Experts are calling for support staff to be installed in the form of school psychologists and social workers as well as all-day schools so that teachers are not forced to delegate tasks to afternoon care or to their parents.

("Die Presse", print edition, May 2nd, 2011)