Compassion and Positivity is Everything
It can be stressful for parents or guardians to engage with you. There may be fear that their child isn’t doing as well as they should be, a lack of time to connect, or even language barriers. As a tutor, being compassionate and delivering information in a well-mannered tone does wonders in situations like this. It’s best to smile, make eye contact, be welcoming, and offer any advice if needed. One good trick to help ease parents or guardians when speaking to them is to first acknowledge something positive about their child that you’ve noticed no matter how small it is. For example, you may have noticed that they are more engaged in their lessons and asking more questions.
Be Proactive and Communicate Often
Some tutors may only speak to parents or guardians when there is a problem, creating a negative environment for both. That’s why it’s key to make the effort to speak with them often whether that be face to face, phone call or even an email. It’s best to keep them up to date about their child’s learning. Communicating often keeps them from feeling on high alert when you reach out and can even foster a beautiful friendship. Of course it is important to know that parents and guardians are busy! So make sure when you communicate with them that you’re planning ahead to find a time that works best for them.
Make the Parent or Guardian Feel Valued and Ask for Their Advice
A great way to build a relationship with parents or guardians is to involve them in their child’s education. This doesn’t mean just having them help with homework, but it could mean asking them to participate in school activities or events. Asking them if they would like to help organize an event is a great way to get to know them and give them a chance to meet other parents or guardians. It could also be something as simple as creating a lesson plan that requests input from them. Of course all of this depends on their schedule and if they have time to participate. In the end, the more you try to involve them in activities, the better.
Another great way to make them feel valued is to ask for their advice. If your student is displaying negative behaviors during a lesson, it is wise to seek out the advice of the parent or guardian. By asking for their advice, two things can occur. One, they may not know there is negative behavior to begin with as the student may not be displaying it at home. Two, you are building a better relationship with the parent or guardian by getting their input in this situation, which will build trust. Questions don’t just have to be about the student’s education when speaking to them, you can also ask questions about the student’s interest and plans that they have during the holidays. It is always important for you to conduct yourself professionally when dealing with a parent or guardian but the conversation doesn’t have to just be strictly about education.
Avoid Taking it Personally and Making Assumptions
Parents and guardians are human and they have their own stress to deal with whether it be at work or in their home life. It is best for you to always keep calm and never take anything they say to heart. You should always respond with questions that will help defuse the situation. For example a parent or guardian may say “You’re saying this because you’re out to get my child” and the best way to respond to a question like this is “I’m sorry you feel this way, please let me know why you think this?”
Also you shouldn’t make assumptions about a student’s home life. Unless it has been stated so, an assumption can cause many problems and can be insensitive to a family’s situation. You should not assume that the student lives with both parents or any parent for that matter. Now, in our globally diverse world you shouldn’t assume that the parent or guardian’s first language is English and should always confirm if they can speak English in the first place. Every student will have a different situation than the next. Assumptions lead to misunderstandings which can create more challenging circumstances for learning.
Building a relationship with a parent or guardian can sometimes be challenging. Keeping these ideas in mind can help you better connect with them. It’s good to remember, at the end of the day the better connection you have with them, the better they can help teach the student, ultimately allowing them to achieve academic success and foster a love for learning.