Holding the Parents’ Hands
Sending a child to a pre-school is a huge event in a parent’s life. They are happy, excited, and at the same time, incredibly concerned about handing over their bundle of joy, their precious angel, the light of their lives to a stranger. Even if it is just for an hour or two, it feels too long.
“Is this the right school for my child? Have I made the right decision?”
“What if my child doesn’t like it here?”
“Will my child be able to cope?”
“Will someone feed her if she doesn’t eat on her own?”
“What if he cries uncontrollably? How will they manage him?”
And the worries go on and on, which is understandable.
The fact is that the qualification of the teacher or the reputation of the school is never really the cause of concern at that moment. Enough thought has been given to those things before applying to the school. However, when the actual moment arrives, parents succumb to a different kind of fear. They are leaving a piece of their heart with a stranger, which, of course, cannot be easy.
So, how do you make this transition easier, not just for the children, but for the parents too?
Have an orientation meeting
Most schools do have an orientation meeting, but more often than not, general things are discussed in these meetings. Parents are informed about the rules and regulations, the basics of academics and extracurricular activities, the way the school operates, the facilities available, the role of the parents, etc.
Of course, all those things are important, but so are the other aspects. Let’s look at a few examples.
- How will you deal with a child who constantly cries? What will you do to comfort them?
- How will you encourage a child who is sitting alone in a corner and not participating in the activities?
- What action will you take if a child doesn’t eat the snack of the day? Will you ensure the child is fed?
- How will you correct children who are hitting each other?
Informing parents about the stand you will take on such issues will help them feel at ease, and reassure them of their decision to send their children to school.
Answer all their questions
There are parents who have their queries and others who just do as they are told. However, both sets of parents will be equally worried about their children.
The reason for some parents asking more questions than others could be differences in personality. One may be extremely hyper when it comes to their children; the other may be more at ease. One may have the courage to ask questions; another may be shy or fearful to do so. One may have no reviews of the school and ask many questions; another may get positive reviews from a friend whose child was in a particular class.
Whatever the reason is, you need to know that answering every question is imperative, however trivial the query may seem to you.
This will reflect your patience and compassion. It also shows that you are ready to do whatever it takes to reassure the parent that their child is in safe hands.
Gradually, your behaviour will help a parent to trust that their child is well looked after. This will reduce the likelihood of asking questions.
Build a strong bond with parents
Building a strong relationship with parents is as important as forging a bond with their children. There are several ways in which you can build and strengthen your bonds with parents.
— Every time you meet them, greet them warmly and politely. A genuine heartfelt smile always touches the opposite person’s heart.
— Whenever you get a chance, have a chat with them. Get to know them as a person. Assure them with words that their child will be taken care of and they need not worry.
— Reinforce that if they have any questions, you are there to answer them. Sharing your number with them and giving them a time when they can call or message you, is an added bonus.
— Meet parents one-on-one, at least once a month to update them about their children.
Good communication goes a long way
While talking to parents, really listen to them. Understand the feelings behind the words and reflect on the concerns they have.
If they say something that reflects your incompetency or the inefficiency of the school in any way, think about it. Don’t take it personally or be on the defensive. This is just a parent concerned about their children. If they are mistaken, you can politely correct them. Even better yet, let your actions talk. Truth always shows in actions.
And if there is something for you to reflect on in that situation, something for you to introspect and change – do that with grace. If there is a system in the school that can be improved, take it forward to the concerned authority.
Lastly, thank them sincerely for showing you another perspective. This will help you improve yourself and/or the school.
The key is to hold the parents’ hands as much as their children’s, keeping in mind that it is a brand new journey for them too.