Best Way to Deal with ‘Problem’ Parents as a Teacher

Not all parents are easy to approach: in fact sometimes they can be worse to deal with than their children! Some parents simply do not seem interested in their children’s education, while others are over-interested and question your every move as their teacher.

In addition to termly parents’ evenings, you may find it necessary to meet with parents more frequently to discuss a student’s progress. As well as you calling upon the parents, be aware they may also call on you. Whatever the issue to be discussed, always remain focused on the positives, and communicate in an open and friendly manner. Your role is to provide their child with a high standard of education, in addition to providing them with essential ‘life-skills’.

Parents as Teacher 1 Best Way to Deal with Problem Parents as a Teacher

Not everyone will have the same views as you on what and how to teach, and it is important you respect parental wishes and take them into consideration, as well as upholding the ethos of the school. Ultimately, it is the parent’s right to determine what kind of education their child should receive, and if they are unhappy with your standard of teaching they also have every right to complain. Try not to take crit­icisms personally, and focus on how a compromise can best be reached. Always ensure any decisions are in the child’s best interests.

In the unfortunate situation of a parent not seeming to care about their child’s education, keep in mind you cannot make them care. Be encouraging and enthusiastic while focusing on the child’s achieve­ments. When poor behaviour is an issue, concentrate on how the behaviour contravenes school policies, rather than how the behaviour affects you personally. Clearly explain school policies and offer posi­tive ways that the behaviour could be approached and modified at home. Never, ever criticize their parenting skills, regardless of how tempting it may be!

In some cases, the child’s parents may not be allowed on site due to previous unacceptable or violent behaviour. Any dealings with these parents are best done either over the telephone or through an approved letter. In extreme cases, it may be preferable to liaise with some form of external mediator, such as a social services representative, to com­municate important information. Always ask for advice before approaching a known ‘problem’ parent.

It is expected that all schools take a Zero Tolerance approach to any form of violence or verbal assault from parents, and in more challeng­ing areas a good link with the local police and antisocial behaviour team is essential. If parents persist in behaving in an unacceptable way, they may even find themselves issued with an Antisocial Behaviour Order (ASBO) or restraining order, which prevents them from enter­ing school grounds.

Parents as Teacher 2 Best Way to Deal with Problem Parents as a Teacher

Remember: verbal and physical assaults from parents are rare occurrences, and support networks are in place to deal with any problems.

The best way to gain a parent’s confidence in you is to open yourself up to them. Keep regular contact with them either through letters or tele­phone calls, and show you are willing to consider their ideas. Regular feedback through homework diaries or report cards is a good way of keeping parents informed about what is going on.

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