Recently a number of members have been asking for help in getting a hard to contact parent to attend a meeting at their school. To generate some fresh ideas we thought we’d publish some of the best suggestions posted on our old forum in response to the following question…
I was wondering if anyone has any ideas about how to get a grade 3 parent to attend a meeting? Their son is falling way behind the rest of the class. We would like to meet with them to discuss extra support, curriculum modification and maybe a referral to the psychologist for an assessment for learning issues. We have sent notes home and tried calling but they have failed to attend all scheduled meetings. Any suggestions would be welcomed.’
Psych4School members’ suggestions included:
‘I always find waiting outside with the student and talking to the parent when they come to pick up them up is a good way of breaking the ice. Not so helpful if they catch the bus. Or try chatting to them at a sports day or other more casual school event if they attend those.’ skibunj, Grade 5 teacher.
‘Maybe leave a short message on the parent’s voice message (if they have one) or write a short letter in a narrative style that is a true account of your observations, and tries to create empathy in the parent for the child. State your concerns for the child. For example:
“Johnny seems really sad at the moment as he is starting to fall behind the rest of the class. At the beginning of last term he was so happy and now I often see him sitting by himself at lunchtime, looking dejected, despite his friends repeatedly asking him to join in their games. I think we need to find some solutions about what might be causing Johnny’s loss of interest. I need your help to see if we can get him back on track. Johnny’s school work and his happiness are no doubt important to you. I am available before and after school this week. I can see you as early as this coming Monday at 8.30 am.” Murray Evely, Psych4Schools Psychologist
‘We solved a similar issue at our school by doing a home visit. The mother was a stay at home mother and I went to see her with the class teacher. We called first to let her know we were coming.’ redteach, Student Wellbeing Coordinator
‘We often have trouble getting some parents to school for a meeting. We have used outside support services so if the family are connected to workers we try and arrange meetings through them. We have also had some success with our Dojo program as it enables teachers to send messages to parents to remind them of meetings. Any other suggestions will be gratefully appreciated.’ Sam, Assistant Principal
Psych4Schools offers a range of resources for improving your interactions with parents including ebooklets for Working with angry, irrational or helicopter parents. Psych4Schools members can also access tip sheets and information on improving communication with parents in the Working with parents section of our members area.
How do you connect with hard to engage parents? Leave your comments below.
Image via Alexander Kaiser, pooliestudios.com