Parents represent multiple viewpoints about what's most important when it comes to their children's teaching and learning. And as educators, we know that good teaching and learning is not a one-way street, but instead a path that profits from multiple perspectives and opportunities. So as I anticipate a wide-range of parenting styles, I am thinking about how to best serve each and every family.
I actually hate this term as I believe it sheds a negative light on parents who care and parents who are willing to make and take the time to care well for their children. To serve these highly committed and caring families well, I try to make sure they have lead time with regard to all information related to the classroom program--I want to partner with these parents as we work together to support their children's best learning and living.
Some parents stay far in the background and don't get involved in their children's education. I try to reach out to these parents and engage their involvement in the most important matters. In the past, I've mistakenly not reached out to these parents enough, but in recent years, I've learned that it's better to reach out sooner than later, and then these reticent parents tend to get more involved.
Some parents are angry--their anger may arise from all kinds of situations. With parents like these it's important to listen and respond to their needs. It's important to try to figure out where the anger is coming from and defuse that anger with positive service to family and student.
Some parents don't follow through wth teaching/learning requests or needs. There's usually a good reason for this. I try not to over expect parents' involvement. Instead I try to find ways that parents can support their child and the school in ways that match the family's interests, resources, and abilities by reaching out to families with a large range of opportunities to get involved and help out.
Parents without knowledge of child psychology and development
Some parents don't understand the science of child psychology and development--they don't know some of the current information that leads to a child's success. For example, this summer I watched a dad berate a child who was clearly a highly sensitive child. The child was tearful and worried, and rather than listening to the child, hearing his fears, and responding with support, the dad was yelling at the child which made the child even more upset. After working with children for the larger part of my life, I do understand a lot about child development and if I notice that a parent may not know some essential, more current facts about that, I'll gently relay the information in hopes that the child will be better served.
I am excited to work in community that represents multiple cultures, and I know that with that variety of cultures comes a variety of priorities and parenting styles. I respect that diversity and learn a lot from it. I don't believe there is one good way to parent, so I remain open minded to parents' multiple ways of parenting and share what's working amongst our learning/teaching team.
Some parents are unhealthy and unable to support their children. These parents may struggle with a severe mental or physical illness or addiction. I try to work with these parents with as much compassion and care as I can. I also keep an eye open to make sure these parents are able to parent in healthy, appropriate ways. As mandated reporters, teachers sometimes have to make that difficult call to authorities if we suspect that a child is being mistreated and abused. While these calls are difficult to make, they often result in families getting the help they need to parent and care for one another well.
Parents generally know and love their children well. As a parent myself, I know it's not easy to parent as parenting calls us to be our very best selves and challenges our weakest traits and attributes. There is always more that any parent can do, and this limitless potential of parenting can be daunting and frustrating. Teachers share this limitless potential and the great need to prioritize in order to serve children well. Teachers do best when they team with parents, learn from them, and focus carefully on the needs and potential of their common denominator--the children.