How To Effectively Share Worrisome Information With Parents Of Young Children
The task of discussing information about a child to their parents or guardians that either is or can be interpreted as negative or worrisome is difficult to do. There is also the potential to create even more issues as the parents or guardians could view the sharing of this information as an attack on their child or themselves.
This type of information could take the form of telling them how their child has been harshly bullying others, is failing a class or needs testing to assess any learning delays or disabilities. No matter the case, sharing this information needs to be handled respectfully and carefully.
Time And Place
In most cases any information that has the potential of creating an argumentative or antagonistic environment it is best to make a meeting with parents or guardians face to face. Most schools will have a room designated for conferences. This has the added benefit of more space if other school personnel such as administration or counseling needs to be present or might be called in.
Secondly, choosing a time that doesn’t put stress on either party is also important. Since schools typically get out before the normal adult workday, it might be best to try to schedule a meeting before school. This is helpful because it also creates an automatic ending time for the meeting as the school day is about to begin.
Discussing The Issue(s)
When it comes time to discuss whatever information has led to the meeting there are several guidelines to help make effective use of time but also to take into consideration the atmosphere that is present. Some of the main tips to remember are:
- Focus on the primary issue(s) at stake. Do not list every single wrong action or worry about a given student. This overloads the parents or guardians with too much [negative] feedback that can backfire
- Have resources, documentation, and other pieces of evidence to support the issue(s) being discussed
- Try to focus on the facts and not personal opinions
- Be open to hearing their side
The last point is very important to remember since often students act out or struggle as a result of other events going on in their lives that they are not willing to share. Getting additional context such as a family relative dying can help shed light on many of the issues going on.
The Importance Of Outside Help
A useful strategy is to inform the administration and, in certain cases such as behavioral problems, the school’s counseling department of the upcoming meeting, the student, and the issues being addressed. Having them sit in on the meeting can be incredibly beneficial not only by making a confrontational situation between the teacher and the parents or guardians more easily diffused but it shows the parents or guardians that the school as a whole is wanting to address and fix whatever the problem that is going.
The odds of a student only being a problem in one teacher’s class is very slim so reaching out to other teachers that the student has and either getting their input to share within a meeting or having them in the meeting as well can help present a more united front.
There is no easy way to share this type of information. Each situation, student, and parent or guardian requires a slightly different approach that should be accounted for. What should never be forgotten though is that the focus is on the child and providing the help and support they need to be more successful or more kind.