How To Talk To Parents…So They’ll Listen

For example, if Travis’ drowsiness in his morning classes is affecting his work, or worse, he’s falling asleep, ask parents if they have noticed anything at home that would suggest he’s not getting enough sleep or if he has any medical issues that might be making him tired.

If they don’t have any insight, ask them to detail a typical evening in the home and probe for specific details that can help bring clarity to the problem you’re having. Parents have eyes and ears for a reason: to be your assistant in helping their child be their best.

Solve A Problem

If inviting observations meets with a dead end, a second option is to reframe your concern in the form of having parents help solve a problem. The most effective way to do this is to present them with facts–not opinions—and, even better, documentation regarding your concern, then invite them to brainstorm possible ways to approach solving the problem.

For example, if Becky only finishes homework two nights a week, share the homework she’s turned in with the parents and explain the missing assignments. Then, ask their ideas on how this problem can be solved to lead Becky into turning in her homework every day.

Start by asking if there’s anything you can do to help her (have her write assignments in an agenda book, give her a special folder for homework papers, have a two-minute conference before she leaves class to make sure she understands the work), then ask what they can offer.

By taking a step in good faith toward helping the child as well as sticking to the facts, you take the pressure off parents to scramble for possible explanations and turn the issue into a puzzle that can be solved through an honest, joint effort.

Discussing a student’s behavior with parents can be seen through one of two lenses: parents vs. camp staff and teachers, or camp staff and teachers in a united front to help a child be their best.

Being mindful of the way you approach parents can make the experience more meaningful and productive for you both. Connecting with parents as allies is the first step in developing a healthy, trustworthy relationship that will benefit the person who matters most: the child.

Beth Morrow is an educator, author and co-program director for Camp Hamwi, a residential camp for youth with diabetes. Reach her at

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Related posts:

  1. How To Talk To Parents…So They’ll Listen
  2. Putting Parents In Their Place
  3. Tips For “Child-Sick” Parents
  4. Parents, Are You Ready For Camp?
  5. Tips For First-Time Camp Parents

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