November 04, 2015

View of the Flatirons in Boulder

It’s become popular to get outraged at helicopter parents. It’s been declared that they’re ruining an entire generation of children, coddling from birth that follows into college and beyond. Yet, for all the negative attention overparenting receives, being present in a child’s life has a stronger impact than absentee parenting – teaching skills like practice, organization and preparation.

Most parents want control over their kid’s lives, to know they’re being raised and educated the right way. Some take it to the extreme, calling into question every assignment, grade and piece of reading material. Before you abandon control and let a parent rewrite your lesson plan, try following these steps to work together with parents, rather than against them.

Find ways to communicate that work for everybody.

Many parents feel the urge to intervene when they haven’t heard from a teacher about their child’s performance. So clearly explain how frequently you’ll report on progress or issues, without overburdening yourself. Note when and how parents can approach you, preferably without giving out your mobile number for around-the-clock texts and calls. Use email to your advantage for quick check-ins. And when a student performs well, take a moment to let the parent know. This way they’re not only hearing about troublesome issues.

Set responsibilities for everyone.

Remind parents that their children are in school, not them. Mandating two hours of nightly study time for junior in a quiet room without a TV – good. Doing the math assignments for him – not good. Find ways to encourage parents to focus on the long-term goal – an educated adult who can make his own decisions – and help their child achieve success, not do the job for him.

Invite collaboration.

Find constructive ways to let parents be your allies. Invite them to join a parent council, participate in after-school programs, field trips, fund-raising, or pitch in and help on the next school concert or play. Put that enthusiasm to good use in ways everyone’ll benefit.

Want to talk about other real-world issues that are going on inside classrooms? Just contact one of our helpful admissions counselors, or fill out the form on the right side of this page.