With the school year ramping up, school-based therapists are experiencing an increased workload. Evaluations and IEP meetings take up a large chunk of time and there are new students to get to know. As you are starting out your year, it’s important to get things off on the right foot with the parents of your students. You’ll need to work as a team in order to attain the best outcome for your students, so it is in everyone’s best interest to foster a good relationship with parents. Here are some simple tips that will help you to connect and work together.
Set Up Meetings Early
Before getting started with a student’s therapy protocols, set up a meeting with parents to discuss the plan for their child and let them know how they can help. If there are things they should and should not do at home that reinforce what you are trying to do in school, be sure that they understand and are compliant. Though you may occasionally be met with a resistant parent, most are happy to have the services available and want to work with you to help their child.
Create Simple Communication Channels
Make it easy for parents to get in touch with you, no matter their situation. For those who prefer phone calls, make office hours clear and return any voicemails as promptly as possible. Emails should be responded to in a timely manner. Ask parents when the most convenient times and methods are to contact them, as well. When parents feel like there is open communication, they are more likely to be supportive and helpful which can make a huge difference for a child’s success.
Be Open and Honest about Progress
Parents who are left in the dark about their child’s progress are often shocked and disappointed when things are not changing as fast as they’d hoped. Send regular reports to parents about what you are working on and help them understand their child’s progress. If they stall, talk to parents about why you suspect they are struggling at the time, then communicate plans to get things back on track.
Address Concerns Quickly
Often parents have questions and concerns about why their child needs services or why you are taking a certain approach. They may not understand the plan for missed classwork when their child is pulled out to work with you. All of these concerns should be addressed as soon as they are brought up, so that parents can get on board and begin encouraging their child to put their all into their therapy assignments. When they are put off, parents may become resistant which can carry over to their child.
Developing a great partnership with the parents of your students will help you get the school year off to a great start. Helpful and understanding parents will make your job so much easier and will help you to help your students have the best possible outcome with their required therapies.
Are you a great communicator? Share your tips with us in the comments section below.
Whether its your parent-therapist relationship or your current workload, if you have any “back to school blues,” it could be time to make a change. Check out our latest school-based positions and apply here.