« Parental Fines | Main | Getting Over the 'Gifted' »

Avoiding the Parent Trap


Ms. Ris of Mentor Matters offers some tips on the art of managing the "parent connection". The key, she says, is to invite parents' participation as much as possible but not to get too worked up about it when they don't come through:

Over the years, I have learned the importance of focusing on what it is I CAN control. I control my decision to continue to keep open the door to my kids’ parents. I hope for the best, but prepare for non-participation. That’s my reality, and to accept it leaves me the energy to really work with my students. Them, I have for 6 hours a day. I choose to concentrate on that.

I appreciate your comments regarding keeping the door open to your parents. I teach kindergarten and consider the parents of my students to be my partners in the education of their children. It is essential to "win them over" and create a two way bridge so that communication is easy and comfortable, no matter what the situation might be.

As a preschool teacher my experiences has shown me, that all parents want what is best for their child. Partnering with parents can be challenging but very rewarding for not only the children and parents but also the teachers. There have been families that I have worked with who took five years and three children through the program before they felt comfortable enough to come to a conference in person or trusted me enough to volunteer in the classroom. The days of stay a home parents is being replaced with both parents working at times two of more jobs. I believe we as educators need to find alternative ways to communicate with our families and find ways in which they can be involved with their child’s education no matter what their comfort level is at the time. Most importantly we need to remember not to take it personal if a parent chooses not to communicate with, us but instead develop strategies to build that communication and avoid falling into that parent trap.

Teachers and parents have everything in common. Of course, they are automatically partners, but the trap opens when because of accountability they begin to fail to respect each other. Fear that the child won't succeed is paramount. They must not blame each other.

There are many reasons for both roles to be separated for the good of the child. As Robert Frost said, " Children want more of life than they do of school." Children need school, and time away from school. Their whole life doesn't need to be school, and parents are responsible to enrich them in other ways.

This will help the teacher, not specifically in what she is teaching, but in the child's ability to grasp ideas and become a mature learner. Parents should not become regular tudors to their children every day after school. Children have their own lessons to learn. If they aren't getting the concepts at school, then the teacher, with professional training should use all learning styles to try to help that child until they get it. However, because of the accountability standards, sometimes the expectations are inappropriate, there is not time, and the class size too large. Child development classes prepare teachers to know how to teach children. Teachers earn their credentials. Management training is not the best way to reach children in a classroom, but because of the NCLB ACT unfortunately management is becoming the method required to meet the testing requirements. Burning out a child at any age is not going to help. Teachers know what they are doing and should be given respect for their work. If that happened, we would see less stress on the homefront as well, and students would benefit.

What is the best way to challenge a student without a sensitive parent becoming upset?

I am also glad that the teacher is "keeping the door open." My experience too frequently is that the door is shut, locked, barricaded and guarded. This didn't begin with accountability--there were teachers before that time who knew that they weren't succeeding with all of their students. The last person that they wanted to see was a parent who might notice--and maybe know more about something (not everything, but something) than they did.

If any parents show up looking like Barbara Billingsly or Harriet Nelson, they are welcome to come smiling on the appointed nights or to the appointed meeting and either receive knowledge or raise funds. I haven't met too many teachers willing to partner since pre-school.

As a parent I have frequently received the desparate phone calls indicating "we just don't know what to do with your child." The strange thing is, they don't want suggestions--they want me to fix things so that they can go back to what they were doing before that didn't work for them.

Comments are now closed for this post.


Recent Comments

  • A Parent: I am also glad that the teacher is "keeping the read more
  • Tara Campbell: What is the best way to challenge a student without read more
  • Deanna Enos, Author Nobody Left Behind - One Child's Story About Testing: Teachers and parents have everything in common. Of course, they read more
  • Karla Konieczki: As a preschool teacher my experiences has shown me, that read more
  • Jaci Sloan: I appreciate your comments regarding keeping the door open to read more




Technorati search

» Blogs that link here