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How to... manage parents who are too engaged

One primary teacher shares her strategies for managing those parents who just won't leave you alone

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The over-engaged parent can be tricky to manage, even if their intentions are good. Here are five complaints you might hear from them − and how you should respond to each one.

  1. “I need to meet with you more often.”
    Parents who regularly ask to meet with you after school may be curious about what their child is being taught or nervous that their child is not progressing at the rate they should be. Explain that you unfortunately have paperwork to attend to, but that you are looking forward to meeting with them at the next parents’ evening. In the meantime, show them some examples of their child’s work and give them some positive feedback on their development.
  2. “Your expectations are not good enough.”
    If a parent feels you are not stretching their child enough, reassure them that you have high expectations of the whole class. If you need to, send home some extra activities that are similar to what the child is doing in school. You could even send home a copy of the school’s literacy or numeracy policy to show parents exactly how you are teaching specific skills, so that they can support your teaching.
  3.  “My child is not being taught in the right way.”
    Some parents will work in education themselves, either as TAs, tutors or teachers  − and they may not be open to the idea that your school teaches phonics differently. If you feel comfortable with it, allow the parent to sit in on a phonics lesson and show them the resources that accompany the system your school adheres to. A calm, clear conversation with you is sometimes all they need to know that their child is getting all the opportunities they are entitled to.

  4. “How does my child compare with the rest of the class?”
    Parents who have high expectations of their children may possess a competitive streak, regardless of the child’s ability. This question can crop up during parents’ evenings, especially when Sats are imminent. Parents might want to hear that their child is sitting with the “clever kids”. Rather than talking about the rest of the class, explain how their child compares with the national average and clearly identify their strengths and what they need to do next to progress.

  5. “Why is my child getting different homework to their friend?”
    As well as differentiating your lessons, it is even more effective to differentiate the homework that you give out. If a parent is concerned about their child being asked to do something more or less challenging than their peers, explain to them that all the children are still being challenged because everybody progresses at a different rate.

Charlotte Pearce is an ex-primary teacher who now teaches supply

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