Date
09 December 2019

Partner with whānau, parents, and caregivers

Suggestion for implementing the strategy ‘Establishing reciprocal relationships with parents and whānau to support learning’

What to ask whānau

What to ask whānau

Connect with whānau to understand the strengths and needs of their child.

Find out about:

Tribal structures and cultural practices:

  • whakapapa (genealogy)
  • who they consider to be whānau
  • tikanga - cultural values and practices they use (language, customs, traditions)
  • about their marae.

People in the student’s life:

  • parent and whānau hopes and priorities for them
  • the important people in the student’s life
  • the best methods and times to communicate with whānau
  • the professionals working with the whānau 
  • the questions they have and the support they would like from the school.

Practical elements:

  • the language/s spoken at home
  • students’ medications and allergies
  • the equipment used at home
  • what they do at home to support learning.

Student’s likes and dislikes:

  • their likes, interests, what they’re good at, need help with, and can do independently
  • their dislikes, what can upset them, how they express this, and their calming skills
  • their favourite hobbies, books, songs, sports, TV programmes.

Establish home-school partnerships

Establish home-school partnerships

Communicate and share information in a meaningful way, demonstrating understanding and support for whānau concerns.

  • Develop a shared understanding of tikanga (cultural practices), such as language, customs, obligations, traditions.
  • Promote regular kanohi ki te kanohi, face-to-face contact to reinforce strong communication and engagement with parents and whānau right from the start.
  • Value what parents, caregivers, and whānau have noticed or assessments they have had done outside school.
  • Involve parents and whānau in determining strategies to support student learning and well-being.
  • Ask about and work with any programmes or materials being used at home to maximise consistency and support for the student.
  • Develop systems for passing on information about a student’s needs, progress, and next steps, in ways that are meaningful.
  • Regularly communicate positive information and achievements to the whānau.

Utilise parents’ skills and expertise

Utilise parents’ skills and expertise

Engagement also worked well when schools tapped into parents’ skills, talents and expertise. It was important that teachers trusted them as parents for the knowledge they had about their child. Having teachers who believed in their child’s potential was critical to successful and sustainable learning partnerships.

Develop authentic partnerships with parents

Develop authentic partnerships with parents

We are true partners when:

  • you listen to what I have to say
  • you acknowledge my intelligence
  • you want to learn more about my ways
  • you don’t judge me
  • you engage me in genuine dialogue
  • we make decisions together
  • you show that my child matters to you
  • you include my experience, knowledge, and viewpoints with yours.

Source: Partners in learning: Parents’ voices 2008 (page 123) (opens in a new tab/window)

Support information sharing

Support information sharing

Sharon Beattie, a parent of a child with low vision, shares her knowledge and experiences of what has worked for her family.

Useful resources

Useful resources

Family whanau file2

Family/whānau file

Publisher: Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga

Download PDF (1300 KB)

Website

Connecting with Māori communities Whānau, Hāpu and Iwi

Publisher: Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga

Visit website

Website

Ruia: School-whānau partnerships for Māori learners’ success

Publisher: Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga

Visit website

Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “Establish reciprocal relationships ”:

Return to the guide “Supporting Māori students”

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