Promoting Dialogue Between Parents and Schools

What do the smell of coffee and an educational landscape have in common? Both can promote successful cooperation! Mindful of that fact, Schwabgut School holds a regular event known as a “parents’ café.”

At precisely 8:15 a.m., when the parents’ café opens its doors at the all-day Schwabgut School and the enticing aroma of coffee permeates the school’s corridors, the first parents start to arrive. Some of them already know each other, while others are there for the first time. The atmosphere is relaxed, with the sound of laughter and lively discussions. The school social worker, the principal, the custodian and a number of teachers stop by as well. The mothers and fathers ask questions and share their views with the teachers and with other parents. “We’re delighted by the enthusiastic response to our parents’ café. After all, communication between parents and school staff isn’t something that can simply be taken for granted,” says project director Stephanie Schär. In many schools, teachers complain that parents lack interest in their children’s progress and fail to show up for parent-teacher night. Parents, too, often talk about a seemingly unbridgeable gap between them and their children’s teachers.

Promote networking among families

“Our parents’ café is contributing to improved cooperation between parents and the school,” says Schär. The initiative fits in well with the Educational Landscapes project, which seeks to strengthen cooperation between the schools and providers of extracurricular educational services. The Jacobs Foundation supports 22 national educational landscapes throughout Switzerland, including “futurina,” which Schwabgut School – and thus also its parents’ café – is part of. The objective of the four-year “futurina” project is to promote networking among families, the school and various organizations in certain districts of western Bern, as well as to improve access to programs for children and families. “As a first step we focus on getting to know one another and establishing a relationship of trust,” explains Schär. A solid foundation is essential for making further progress and pursuing other projects. In the interest of involving extracurricular programs, organizations from the district are invited to introduce their programs at the parents’ café.