Fastn and Parentkind work together to produce a guide for parents on relationships

13 May 2021
Abi Froud
Abi Froud is Education Programme Coordinator at Fastn. 
Throughout the last year, parents have become more important than ever in their child’s education. From full-time home learning to supporting the transition back into physical schools, parents have been swapping hats between teacher, employee, homemaker, parent and partner.

If there is one thing we know from the last year, it is that relationships are what have helped us through all these challenges.

That’s why Fastn and Parentkind have developed a guide for parents on talking to their children about what makes for the kind of healthy, dependable relationships that help people thrive throughout life.

Relationships with children, friends, partners, colleagues and with schools have all helped (or sometimes hindered) in the last year. This is why the introduction of relationships education in schools couldn’t come at a better time. Relationships education is being implemented in schools across the country right now as part of the new compulsory relationships, sex and health education (RSHE). This is an excellent opportunity to support children and young people to learn about what really matters through schools and help them connect with the things they really missed whilst learning at home — their relationships.

Relationships education can help set children and young people up for happier and healthier lives. According to Fastn’s polling, young people have also identified their future relationships as being at least as important as their careers. 

Parentkind points out that outcomes for children are best when schools and parents work in close partnership. Parents are becoming more engaged in education and increasingly confident in supporting their child’s learning. That’s why our guide supports parents take a real interest in talking to children about healthy, dependable relationships. Schools have a vital — and now statutory role to play — but so do parents. The best relationships education is not an isolated lesson in the school curriculum, but a co-ordinated approach across school and home.

It is an approach reflected in Principles of Excellence in Relationships Education signed up to by Parentkind, Fastn and other organisations including Relate, Relationships Foundation and Family Links. The Principles promote a whole schools approach, in which relationships education is not just taught in lessons but modelled by staff and reflected in wider behaviour policies and culture.

So, when your child’s school invites you to get involved with the school’s approach to RSHE policy or to share your thoughts about changes to the curriculum, it may feel like another request that you can’t quite handle but please try. The benefits of good quality relationships education cannot be overstated. 

Good quality relationships can help protect us against many challenges in life including mental and physical ill-health. Relationships education can also help young people identify signs of unhealthy or abusive relationships.

A relationships education approach that supports staff to role-model positive relationships with pupils, other staff and parents, helps to support success in many areas of school life. It is the basis for tackling many issues parents worry about like children’s mental health, safeguarding and educational attainment.

As RSHE learning begins to roll out across schools, you may want to support this learning or need help answering some of the questions that arise from what they have learned in the school day. This is why we have developed Talking to your child about dependable relationships’ to support you. Talking to your child about dependable relationships offers seven top tips’ for parents including modelling behaviour, being honest, keeping conversations light and listening without judging.

It recognises the serious impact that the pandemic has had on children and teenagers including missing out on face-to-face contacts with friends and family, that is now being seen reflected on rising incidences of mental health issues.

Talking about relationships with children and young people may seem daunting but it is so important we do. In fact, we probably already do it more than we realise! Every conversation we have with our child is an opportunity to role-model positive relationship behaviours that help them to identify what a healthy, dependable relationship looks and feels like to them. By making sure that these conversations are productive and supportive, we can help create the positive family environment that supports children. By working together with schools to support the new RSHE curriculum, we can help set the next generation up for the best possible future.