A disengaged parent can be simply defined as one who is resistant or unwilling, for whatever reason, to communicate or even associate with the school, despite every effort that is made to bring them into the fold. They can be anything from reclusive to outright hostile, and unless they become more receptive to the school, can become a significant hurdle in their child’s education. In order to improve on the relationship, it is important to understand the possible causes of this attitude in the first place.
Memories don’t all vanish over time, and for a few parents, school isn’t always remembered as the place of growth and opportunity it was for so many others. Instead, the thought of a classroom can bring all of their insecurities, forgotten for so long, bubbling back to the surface. It is important that for their children, the positive experiences are the ones in focus.
Of course, it is not always limited to the parents’ childhood that makes them feel distanced. Even as adults, bad experiences can have a lasting impact. Particularly in the cases of families that have moved from other places in the country or even overseas, they could have had a difficult experience with a teacher or member of the senior leadership team that has left them reluctant to engage with the new school. Schools have moved on a great deal in recent years, which many parents may be unaware of. Advancements in ICT (information & Communications technologies have moved schools forward in leaps and bounds, opening up new methods of learning and taking steps to ensure that the support is there for parents to help their child learn and develop.,. Clearly articulated updates about the school, its policies and its facilities can serve as a good top line communication point that does not put upon the parents.
For some of the less academically able parents, their time in education will be remembered as an uphill battle. Stepping back into an environment surrounded by academia can be intimidating. In some of the worst cases, the insecurity can manifest as defensiveness, and children are receptive to their parents’ opinions, often reflecting them. When a hostility towards authority is demonstrated by the child, it can be particularly difficult to address when the child’s parent is not accessible. It is at times like these that a strong system to integrate parents with the school shows its true value.
One of the best and most effective ways to engage parents is through interacting with them outside regular times, like when you are teaching or normal working hours. Events hosted either for the parents, such as quiz nights, fundraisers, open evenings, etc can make use of existing parental relationships to help bridge the gap between schools and those who find them an unwelcoming place. By speaking with and seeing teachers outside the classroom environment, preconceptions can be broken, leading towards a positive and mutually beneficial relationship.
It is still important to be reaching out in a professional context, however, and there are methods that schools can use to stay connected with parents: Groupcall Messenger is an award winning parental engagement product, allowing schools to communicate with parents, quickly and efficiently. With the addition of Xpressions, the parental app, a two way, multi lingual conversation is opened between parents and the school, keeping them up to date with their child’s activities and encouraging communication with their teachers. While overcoming a deeply ingrained attitude towards school can be a long and difficult process, Messenger helps makes those first steps possible and ensures that healthy communication continues.
To find out more about how Messenger can help to connect your school with alienated parents, take a look at our product page.