Relationships in Schools Are Central to Young People’s Growth

By and reprinted from the Search Institute

Our world is changing rapidly, but one thing remains constant. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the educational challenges and adaptations it brought, the teacher-student relationship remains central to young people’s development. But how do parents view the importance of this relationship?

Search Institute is sharing new data that demonstrates parents agree that the relationships teachers forge with students play an important role in students’ growth and that parents value these relationships and the positive impact they have on young people.

The Power of Relationships in Schools 

Search Institute commissioned YouGov to conduct a national web-based survey of U.S. parents of school-age children. Building on Search Institute’s research, the survey focuses on understanding parents’ perceptions of the relationships between young people and their teachers, and how to support the work of educators and leaders to bring the value of Developmental Relationships to life.

Through meaningful relationships, young people can learn about themselves, gain confidence, take on challenges, build resilience, and ultimately thrive because they have a strong web of supportive adults. Previous Search Institute research shows that students with stronger Developmental Relationships with their teachers had significantly stronger senses of belonging, motivation, and GPAs.

More than half of parents surveyed believe that a strong student-teacher relationship has a positive impact on their children’s growth and strengthens the priorities that parents have for their children. Of those polled, approximately four out of five parents reported somewhat or very strong relationships between teachers and their children.

Parents Get It 

Despite an increase in polarized political and social landscapes, parents are not divided in their views on the importance of student-teacher relationships. There were no group differences across race/ethnicity, family income, parent marital status, parent employment, child gender, child Individualized Education Program (IEP) status, or type of school attended.

Parents of all backgrounds notice when their children are thriving or making strides. They may not fully appreciate all the elements, actions, and resources that go into the making of Developmental Relationships, but they see that the teacher-student relationship is at the heart of their child’s success.

Parents See Teachers as Important Partners in Young People’s Growth 

The roles of teaching and parenting often overlap or complement each other.

Teachers and parents are important, interrelated catalysts for young people’s growth. When each of the key adults in a child’s world builds upon what the others are doing, the child receives the benefits. That cooperation is predicated on trust, understanding, and appreciation—and survey results show that the higher parents rate their own relationship with their child’s teacher, the better they perceive the relationship between teacher and child.

Although more than 60% of parents surveyed reported somewhat or very strong relationships with their children’s teachers, there is room for growth. Parents suggested that more collaboration and communication with teachers would further improve their relationship. Highlighting the role educators’ work environments and compensation play in ensuring they have the capacity to engage with families, parents also reported that improved teaching conditions (increased pay, more support, etc.) would also lead to an improved relationship with families.

Creating Change: The Way Forward 

Systemic change requires a community approach with young people at the center.

In order to effectively promote positive youth development among all young people, parents, educators, out-of-school and afterschool-time practitioners, mentors, and others must agree that all young people deserve to be valued, to be protected, and to have their basic needs met. With that understanding, these groups can work together to build meaningful relationships and connections and to create the conditions for young people to thrive.

To access the post about this discussion, please click here.