Many of the obstacles to working with parents and caregivers, including those from marginalized populations, are systemic and social in origin. Teachers and schools cannot hope to completely overturn these structural factors in isolation; however, we can undertake to mitigate or at least name, acknowledge and understand some of these socially rooted obstacles.
Open and accepting attitudes combined with practical strategies aimed at overcoming or palliating the negative effects of systemic barriers can make a difference. (See Healthy Communication and Strategies for Positive Action.) Due to the systemic nature of the issues and of real life, no strategy or initiative will be perfect or even comprehensive.
Making an effort, however imperfect it might seem, sends a message to all parents and caregivers, especially those who are struggling with social exclusion that they are seen and heard, and that their life experiences and challenges matter; and that they have a right to work with the school in support of their children. When parents feel like they belong, they are more likely to take their place and do so in a constructive fashion.
Take a moment to think about the ways in which you and your school facilitate or discourage parents’ and caregivers’ participation in prevention or intervention related to situations involving bullying and inequity.
- In what ways do I encourage parents’ and caregivers’ participation?
- In what ways do I discourage parents’ and caregivers’ participation?
- In what ways does my school encourage parents’ and caregivers’ participation?
- In what ways does my school discourage parents’ and caregivers’ participation?