Parents and Caregivers: Partners in Prevention

This module speaks to teachers and other school staff who understand that engaging the whole school is key to building a safe and inclusive school culture, a fundamental prerequisite to our students’ learning and wellbeing.

We all know that parents and Caregivers are pivotal partners in this endeavour. As central figures in our students’ lives, parents and Caregivers influence the fabric of daily life at school, whether or not they are visibly present. Working with parents and Caregivers brings challenges and opportunities. We are catapulted out of the school environment and thrust into connection with the larger world in all its multi-faceted diversity. This can be at once difficult, complex, rewarding and enriching.

When parents and Caregivers participate in efforts to prevent bullying and promote equity and inclusion, it creates a ripple effect, amplifying the outcomes. Ideally, parents and Caregivers can serve to reinforce those core values and attitudes that are an antidote to bullying, harassment and exclusion, with their caring, compassion, courage and respect for differences and human rights. Their endorsement of such values and attitudes, in theory and in practise fosters coherence in students’ lives by building a bridge between home and school.

Our Professional Learning Modules (PLM) exploring bullying prevention and equity and inclusion form the foundation of Parents and Caregivers: Partners in Prevention. Concepts and strategies presented in those modules are applied to the context of individual and collective interactions with parents and Caregivers.

As our premise, we understand that our fear of difference coupled with an abuse of power are at the core of bullying. When such attitudes feed off social inequity, such as racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia, they can result in attitudes, behaviours, language and gestures that target students from particular social groups. Many parents and Caregivers experience social exclusion and inequity, as do their children. This may affect their ability to involve themselves in efforts to prevent or redress bullying and exclusion at their children’s school.

This module provides a logical next step in training for teachers and school staff who have familiarized themselves with our other PLMs on this website. Those who are striving to pursue their commitment to promoting equity and inclusion in their daily work lives will find their vision reflected and nourished in this module.

Parents and Caregivers: Partners in Prevention offers a practical approach to bringing parents and Caregivers into discussion and dialogue aimed at creating a safe and inclusive school culture. The module is not a recipe book, and we acknowledge there are no simple rules to follow. Instead, we present guidelines and concepts that can be applied in a broad range of situations at both elementary and secondary levels, supported by concrete strategies, tools, exercises and scenarios serving as examples.

Effective collaboration with parents and Caregivers in the development of a safe and inclusive school culture requires a team approach. As teachers, our role is fundamental, but we cannot do it alone – nor should we. Working in tandem with support staff, principals and school boards will help to ensure that our schools are welcoming places for a broad diversity of parents and Caregivers.

Using the Module

Throughout the module, we use terminology that promotes equity and inclusive education. Words have the power to fully include people in our collective reality, rendering their lives and experiences visible. Terminology that describes people’s experiences is constantly evolving and changing. We are all in a perpetual learning process and it is likely that most of us will regularly encounter words we do not know.

The terminology used in this module derives primarily from concepts that were defined and developed in our Equity and Inclusive Education module. More specific definitions may be found in that module’s glossary. (See Glossary.) When you encounter a word that is new for you, we strongly recommend that you visit the glossary section to check for a definition.

Throughout this module, you will find exercises and illustrations aimed at reinforcing key concepts while promoting reflection and interaction. The following are definitions of these:

  • Samples: A description of a situation serving to illustrate a particular issue or problem.
  • Saying it: Samples of phrases illustrating how a particular approach or concept would be expressed with words to a parent or Caregiver in a real-life situation.
  • Sound Bites: A situation illustrating how a concept could be applied in a real-life situation with parents and Caregivers.
  • Scenarios: A challenging situation followed by a pop-up paragraph containing a recommended strategy with an explanation.