Fostering a Healthy School-Family Partnership

Am I being too strict, or am I spoiling my child?” There are two sides of parenting, according to

Child Development and Parenting Specialist Sirsa Qursha: your own style and your child’s needs.

Parenting styles

Qursha relayed to parents at Ask Our Experts II*, the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, using porridge as an analogy to parenting styles: Goldilocks wanted her porridge not too hot, not too cold, but “just right”:

(cold) emphasises obedience

(hot) provides few behavioural guidelines

(just right) blends a caring tone with structure and consistent limit-setting

“Each style impacts children’s self-esteem and the way they see themselves,” says Qursha who spoke to parents about finding the balance between high expectations and clear boundaries and being loving, supportive and understanding of what their child’s needs are at different stages of development.

Blended families

Many parents raised the issue of blended families, which is common in Arab culture – when grandparents get involved in parenting your kids and they have different parenting styles to yours.

Qursha encourages parents to establish clear communication and expectations; who does the parenting and sets limits and who showers the child with love and support. She offers this tip: Babas talk to your side of the family and mamas talk to your side in order to minimize conflict.

Grandparents should know that parents are doing the childrearing so it’s important to support parents. Parents also need to understand that the role of grandparents is to offer love and some spoiling, to a certain extent.

School-family partnerships

Qursha points to a gap most parents know all too well: a child tends to present problems at school, not at home or vice versa. She spoke to parents about going into school with a positive attitude about what their child is suffering from at school, working in partnership with the school to meet their child’s needs and making the most out of parent-teacher meetings.

Here are Qursha’s three tips about parent-teacher meetings:

1. Having all the information on hand: Go in with a file about your child and have it accessible to back up the point you’re trying to make

2. Going in with a positive attitude: Remember that your child’s teachers have experience and a professional outlook. They may not know your child as well as you do, but they are trying to meet your child’s needs. You trusted your child in this environment – relay that trust and respect in their professional opinion

3. Leaving the meeting with two to three goals: Specify and follow up on these points. So if your goal is for your child to participate more in class, the strategy over the next month will be getting your child to participate at least twice in each lesson

Takeaway message from Qursha for parents: “Know that you are not alone going through these struggles.” An indirect outcome of these sessions is that parents learn from one another and offer empathy. It’s nice to see that parents can bond over these tough situations in life”, she notes.   

Child Development & Parenting Specialist Sirsa Qursha spent more than 10 years in the child protection sector and currently offers child development and parenting consultations through her private practice. She has extensive experience in the development, implementation and management of child and family-centred programmes and is certified in Kazdin Parent Management Training from Yale Parenting Center of Yale University. Qursha has been sharing her expert advice with parents through Family Flavours and Nakahat ‘Ailiyeh for many years now.