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How do I handle parents who are worried about their child's academic development?

Parents who are worried about their children may simply be nervous about the newness of the middle school setting, unsure about how their child will cope with the transition, and suspicious about exactly what resources will be available for their students. Reassure them that their child will be okay by discussing classroom and school policies, letting them know that they are always welcome to observe the class, sending progress notes home with the student, listening and noting all concerns, giving support, and offering suggestions. Setting the tone at the onset like this will be comforting for parents, and if issues arise later in the year, these same people will approach you as the advocate for their child that they know you are, already confident in the fact that you are interested in seeing their child succeed.

Consider these tips when working with parents who have questions or who are concerned about their child's performance in school:

  • Be trustworthy and approachable. Building trust among parents is an important task for teachers. When parents trust teachers they will feel comfortable having their child in the classroom, and it will ease worries.

  • Be accessible. When teachers make themselves accessible by being available to answer questions either by phone or by e-mail, parents feel that they have an ally.

  • Listen to concerns. Ask parents about their concerns and discuss any issues with them. Try to assess what can be done to make them feel more comfortable.

  • Be open-minded. Remember that people from different cultural and religious backgrounds may think differently and have unique points of view that should be taken into account. Be careful not to dismiss parental concerns that you don't instantly understand. Always be mindful of the diverse backgrounds of the families you work with.

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