Partnering with Parents
Posted by Team APATA | Jan 19, 2020
Parents are very busy people…running a family…working…on the run between multiple classes from one side of town to the other as one child does dance, the other a musician, while the third and fourth are into drama, circus and singing…you get the picture!
Challenging sometimes is the need for instant gratification – like Amazon (I’ve placed the order and delivery should be here in three to five days – right!) So, questions like ‘my child has been on the drums for a week now, so when can I expect a ‘Ringo Star’ performance’, shouldn’t be a surprise, same as one ballet class doesn’t mean you’re on pointe shoes the following week.
Approach and keeping parents informed is a must with information sessions, newsletter circulations, and progress reports on development and technique as well as personality and growth for the individual’s spirit. It’s communication with parents that’s the true testimonial of your studio, how you progress and showcasing the benefits of your school and what your community has to offer.
It’s super important to be clear about school dynamics so parents have a clear understanding of the school’s focus and the right suit for the needs of their child. Some schools have a busy schedule with lessons, competitions and performances that they expect their students to participate in, and some expect students to take formal examinations aligned with particular syllabus. Others provide and offer a more informal approach and focus on enjoyment, fitness or creativity.
Need and expectation is the key and while many offer all of the above components which vary depending on the age of the child balancing expectation with individual growth and development can often be complex for many teachers in the classroom. Performing can be a valuable learning experience, exams and competitions combined with high performance programs stimulating and motivating, but for some the fit isn’t right and can also raise unrealistic expectations. Finding the balance between competitive and high-pressure competition environments may run the risk of student comparison and miss the opportunity to celebrate individuality, unique skills, different body types, creativity and musicality.
Communication is key and while the studio is your business, parents are your customers and building a partnership with them is essential, remembering parents are more than likely to find running an exhausting schedule quite a challenge. Firstly, you and the parents are striving for the same things – children to be engaged, grow and learn, build confidence and find their path and passion for the future that lies ahead. While it can be tricky parents often become a teacher’s greatest ally and contribute greatly to a studio’s community and success.
Hints & Tips
- Keep parents informed of what is happening in the classroom; the fewer surprises, the better.
- Be aware of the parents’ home situation; this will allow for easier communication and diplomatic handling of sensitive issues.
- Be patient when parents come to you with concerns; it is natural and normal for parents to worry about their children and teachers should make every effort to resolve their concerns.
- Be prepared to discuss your classes and the reasoning behind them. Parents will accept new situations more easily if they can understand why things are being done in a particular way.
- Be open; remember that parents receive most of their information from the student’s perspective and will naturally take their child’s side in a conflict. Be respectful, friendly, and open to new perspectives and advice. You can only hope that the parents will reciprocate.
- Let parents know when you are available for meetings and other forms of communication; showing that you are willing to communicate with the family and your studio community demonstrates your concern and your commitment to the student’s success.
- In the event that the parent has concerns regarding certain classroom rules and standards, let them know that the rules are for the benefit of learning, your studio community and the safety of all your students; these being your top priorities.
- Consider input where appropriate. Don’t invite parents into the decision-making process but warmly welcome feedback especially if there has been a change in program or a new policy put in place.
- Validate concerns – it does make a difference. Parents will respect your validation of their concerns.
- Remember, the students are their parent’s children. Parental concern and involvement is natural and ought to be encouraged. Show the student’s parents the same consideration you would want to be shown if you were in their shoes.
Running a successful studio and enjoying a confident and success studio environment is all about the parent factor. At the heart of every successful studio is community – the mum’s and dad’s.
Wishing you all the best and great success in 2020. Look forward to hearing from our APATA community sharing information, passion projects, practice, creativity and all things performance!