Inviting parents to talk about their children can lead to many of them becoming instantly defensive. Some parents think that teachers will put their parenting skills into question. As teachers, however, we believe that optimum learning occurs only when there is collaboration between home and school. We believe that it’s our role to maintain a meaningful relationship with parents so as to build foundations of trust with them. The following are five things you should never do when bringing your concern to parents about their children.
Never discuss bad behaviour or overly sensitive issues with the child present
It is important that you have the student present when setting targets for achievement and behaviour. This way, the child will take ownership for his/her behaviour and progress with the parent present. However, when addressing issues of poor conduct or other sensitive topics, it is best to speak to the parent privately. If you allow the student to be present during this discussion he/she may interrupt or distract in order to explain or redeem himself/herself. Additionally, some parents may become frustrated if it is a repeated offence and may resort to disciplining their child on the spot.
Don’t be too serious!
While it’s of key importance to show parents that you control the situation, you should take into consideration that parents are already in an embarrassing situation when they come to you. Remember to smile at appropriate moments and offer encouraging and positive words of support. This will ensure that the tone and mood of the conversation, though serious, is well received and reciprocated by the parent. A good teacher is polite and keeps listening attentively to what the parent has to say.
Do not complain all the time
The majority of parents are instinctively biased to their children. Teachers should be mindful of the language that they use when addressing parents. This means that you take into consideration your facial expression and body language when talking about the challenges that you may be experiencing with their child. Avoid describing a student as impolite or chaotic. Parents will take it personally and will immediately become defensive. The best way to bring your concern to a parent is to commence by referring to the positive things before you move to the negative ones. Say, for instance, “Aya is a talented student but she’s struggling with…” Referring to positive qualities make parents eager to listen to you and support you more.
Don’t judge them… Don’t jump to conclusions
Being with a parent is the best opportunity whereby you can gather information. Make an effort to listen no matter what you think of the parent. Judging them is not your business. Your business is to be informed about the child in order to solve the problem. One intelligent way to do this is to ask questions that grab parents’ attention and make them suggest solutions instead of defending themselves.
Don’t stay with them when the conversation is over
Once the conversation is over, avoid discussing other topics with parents. Thank them for collaborating, smile, and say goodbye!