COVID has been the ultimate disrupter, calling into question how we live, from shopping to socialising to working. Being forced to examine how we act has brought some unexpected wins, one of those being the smoother morning drop offs for our Primary School students. With parents off campus, even our youngest students have embraced the responsibility thrust upon them and our morning routine has been revitalised with focus on our students being front and centre.

But what does this say about the parent/school relationship? Must it be redefined now that the handover has evolved into a tag team relay rather than team sport when all players are on the court at once?

Weeks of home schooling (thankfully not for too long here in WA) has brought to the fore the importance of a strong school/parent relationship. Parents and teachers serve different purposes in the educational journey of a child, each necessary but insufficient without the other. What is most magical about the partnership of parents and teachers is that, unlike other partnerships which revolve around give and take from both parties, in this partnership, both partners are givers with the beneficiary being the child/student.

So what can we do to nourish this partnership to ensure that the child benefits as much as possible? More specifically, what do we need from parents to maximise learning and developmental growth during school hours?

When we pass the baton to each other at 8.00 or 8.20 am, we are hoping to receive a child that has slept well, eaten a good breakfast, has enough fuel to last the day and is kitted out in the correct school uniform. Being dressed in proper school uniform is more important than it seems. Some parents question the time and resources spent following up on incorrect uniform; the colour of socks or hair ties can seem insignificant in the bigger scheme of things. However, working with your child to dress properly for school gives a message that school matters and that school pride matters. I know that uniforms are expensive, so I take this opportunity to thank Celeste Tucker for helping so many of us access quality, pre-loved uniforms. When we insist on the correct uniform, it is not just about the socks, it is about pride in what this uniform - and what we - represent. And rules are rules! School rules are for everyone. We want our children to know that no one is above the rules. Of course, we will give special considerations when warranted, but we need to sing from the same tefillah book regarding School rules.

Kids have spy grade antennae. They can sense displeasure or tension a mile away. Just as teachers ensure their language and messages are supportive of home, it is just as important that open conversations at home are supportive of school. Will there be issues you need to raise with us? Sure! However, let us do so in a private meeting or phone call, demonstrating the importance and confidentiality of our partnership to our children and students.

And what do you need from us? We must strive to continue to teach your children with professionalism, integrity and with faith in their abilities. We need to listen to them, and to you, when special needs arise. You entrust us to care for your precious beings every day, and we revel in the responsibility to provide them with the guidance and space they need to grow into the best students they can be.

I thank you for the partnership approach that you take with us each day. And I commit to you that, through this approach, the ultimate beneficiary, your child, will thrive here at Carmel. Despite the disruption of COVID-19, it is pleasing that our partnership is as vital and important as ever. Even though we miss seeing those of you who were coming in each day, you are no less a part of our thinking when it comes to planning and implementing the best possible learning experience for your family.

Shula Lazar