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Teaching is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. Sometimes it can feel like a thankless job. We reach out to parents for support and wait for a response. We call, and they may not answer. Or we only hear from parents when they have a concern. These are all frustrating realities about teaching. Sometimes we wonder what could be more important than their child’s education. Sometimes parents are saying more when they say nothing at all.
Here are just a few things parents are really saying when they are silent:
- I am Overwhelmed– Life is hard. Many families lost their jobs after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Parents have been home with their children, helping support them and working hard to keep their families afloat. When they get an email from you about their student, it might just be one more thing in a sea of responsibilities that are overwhelming them. Please approach all conversations with empathy.
- I am Embarrassed– Many American adults read at an 8th-grade level. Much of the population is functionally illiterate. Parents often feel embarrassed about their inability to help their children with schoolwork. This is often a source of embarrassment for parents.
- I Cannot Help– When parents feel unable to help or too overwhelmed to help, they often look into alternative ways to help their child succeed in school. Access to private tutoring or homework help can often be outside of the family budget. Always keep in mind, if they do not seek help for their child, it might not be because they do not want to help.
- I trust You– Parents often put their trust solely in their child’s teacher, school, and support team to help their child succeed. If you do not hear from your parents, it might just mean that they trust you are doing a fantastic job and do not need their help. Do not wait for parents to reach out to you. Communicate with parents as often as possible. This will make it easier to receive support from home when you need it.
- I Need Your Help– Sometimes, parents struggle with things much more significant than you can imagine. Often, they are too afraid to ask for help, but they need it desperately. Opening up lines of communication and building relationships throughout the year will help parents feel safe when they need to ask you for help. Make sure that you are an advocate for your child’s entire family.
When parents are silent, they are often shouting for help. Do not give up trying to communicate with families and build relationships. Meet families where they are. Go to your students’ sports events and chorus performances. You will indeed develop stronger relationships with your students and their families when you support them outside school. Lead with your heart, and you will see relationships bloom.