Keeping Mom and Dad Happy – What do parents look for during class?
You work to pack in all the fun, encouragement, and of course, learning, that you can into each 25 or 45 minute class. For your regulars, you take the time to get to know what they like, and what keeps them coming back to you, their favourite teacher. They’re having fun and seem to like you, you muse, that’s basically the most important thing, isn’t it?
But sometimes we forget that there is another key stakeholder involved.
Your young learners’ parents.
Perhaps it’s a little nerve-wracking to consider someone else out there, silently (or not so silently) passing judgement on your teaching. But they’re the ones who enrolled your student in English lessons, who pay for them, and, from time to time, even feature in some of the lessons themselves! Their opinions and wishes are just as important as those of your student.
See? they’re not so scary!
We owe it to ourselves to provide an excellent level of service to them, as well. But how can we do this?
Let’s take a look:
What do Parents Want?
No one wants to pay good money to put their child through something they hate. Learning a language should be fun and exciting!
“Oh, cool. English class again. Awesome.”
Build that rapport and give a fun, engaging experience that will keep them coming back.
Happy pupil, happy parents, right?
Obviously a key component, yet it’s not the only one…
Your young learner LOVES the games you play and goes nuts for that one silly voice you do. By the end they’re already desperate to see you again.
Well, let’s not forget why we’re here. Somewhere in amongst all the fun, little Timmy and Susie should be learning some English. Between the bouts of laughter, those parents want to hear spoken English and witness some progress. You’re more than just an entertainer; challenge your pupils.
“Teacher lets me sing ‘Baby Shark’ the whole lesson, I haven’t had to think once!”
Which brings us to our bottom line:
- Value for Money
Is there anything you do that sets you apart and provides that extra level of student care? It doesn’t have to be something big or flashy, but rather, shows you care about providing a worthwhile service.
For instance, I always leave high-quality notes that students and parents can use after class (remember, students get a PDF of lesson slides, plus notes!) This way parents have a tangible record of what we covered. Maybe you write excellent reports, or always manage to turn warm ups/vocab reviews into fun and inventive games!
It’s easy to make an entire vocabulary boardgame using the stickers as counters!
Parents appreciate these additional small gestures, and feel like they’re getting something ‘extra’.
Feels good, doesn’t it?
Show up on time, look the part, and take pride in what you do.
Off-camera, you may be wearing pyjamas and bunny slippers (no? just me? OK). But never let that stop you giving your best. For every pupil you teach, every lesson.
It’s easy to tell apart the teacher who is bored and disinterested, from the one who is passionate and enthusiastic about their work. Which one are you?
Developing your skills every day, fluffy footwear optional
Now, for the majority of kids’ classes, parents remain an ever-present yet remote consideration.
However, spend long enough teaching online and you will no doubt experience the full, glorious spectrum of familial behaviours, from the comical and the heart-warming, to the downright surreal. It feels great when a student excitedly pulls their bemused grandmother on camera to introduce her, less so when a younger sibling’s wailing drowns out your valiant efforts to teach “A, A, Apple!”.
“T, T, Tantrum!”
Often, when a parent does take part in your lesson, they can be a valuable teaching assistant, particularly when helping very young children to focus.
But what about when these background characters become an encroaching threat to your lesson’s success?
(and some helpful suggestions!)
“My student has a noisy home life! They constantly speak to family members off-camera!”
Thanks to online teaching, students can take lessons anytime and anywhere to fit their schedules, but this can come with drawbacks.
- Muting or lowering the volume of their mic when you are talking. At least now you can hear yourself think!
- In a group lesson, muting students with distracting background noise. Unmute when you want them to speak.
- Capturing your student’s attention and rewarding them for giving it to you. Be the most fun, exciting thing in the room!
- Making a clear distinction between lesson time and home life. Use consistent, engaging routines and attention signals. I love using Simon Says (“touch your….”) to quickly focus attention and as a transition between activities.
“My student’s Mom/Dad/Grandparent answers everything for him. He never speaks for himself!”
Uhhh…which one’s my student, again?
This one depends on the age/stage of your pupil. If this helps very young or shy children be more confident, great!
When it doesn’t allow the child any opportunity to develop their own skills, it can be problematic.
- Turn-taking: alternate between asking questions to student/parent. This way, Mom/Dad can still participate, no one feels left out, and your child can gain confidence seeing their parent model answers.
“Amy, what is…?” “Great! Ok, Dad…”
- Emphasising the student’s “OK, Susie!…” Your student is the one you want a response from, no one else.
- Praising and rewarding student’s over parents’ responses. Acknowledge correct responses from Mom or Dad, if you like, but your student’s responses should elicit your most enthusiastic celebrations!
Have any tips of your own for keeping those parents happy? Any experiences you’d love to share? Leave a comment below!
Keep an eye out for future blog articles filled with more tips and tricks to improve your iTutorGroup experience!
Written By Teacher Catherine