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How to talk to parents?

The tricks to maintaining and cultivating a good parent-teacher-student relationship!

If you are reading this you love to sing! You may even be a teacher. One of the components of teaching is that you get to work with beautiful young humans. Those young humans come with guardians/parents. Suzuki believed strongly in the triangle of student success. This picture from the Nuryl website includes the additional 'how-to' words that I love. The parent-student encourages and learns. The student-teacher supports and provides feedback. AND The teacher-parent collaborates and communicates. If we ignore this part of lessons the attrition you will face in your studio will be greater. Not to mention the progress of your students will vary more.

Here are 5 tips that we can foster the teacher-parent side of the triangle.

Tip #1 - Clear Expectations

When you begin lessons keep an open and honest dialogue with the parents about the expectation you have for them. Explain what those expectations are and give examples. One expectation of my parents that I give is that they check in with me regularly. This can be email, phone, text or my favorite at the lesson. Very clearly I stated what the requirements of parents in the lesson are at the various ages and stages. This helps the parent understand more than just what the student should be up to during the week but also what kinds of growth they can expect for their singer. Pressure falls off when expectations are clear.

Tip #2 - Communicate Communication

Parents are busy, finding the right time and way to communicate with each is important. Some of my student's parents need a phone call every once in a while, others it needs to be in person. Being flexible to the parent is helpful. This also could mean that you explain the method you prefer and explain your boundaries on communication. You could offer a statement like, "I prefer email for all communication except the more time pressing, then I prefer a text message or call."

"Communication to a relationship is like oxygen is to life. Without it, it dies." – Tony A. Gaskins, life coach

Tip #3 - Communicate Often or Not

Have you ever received an email everyday or more from a single source? How often do you read them? How often is a balancing act. When you use email or text or calls it is best to do them routinely and make them packed with information OR only when pertinent information exists. Bullet points and not paragraphs, highlighting, bolding and bringing forward the gist is a kindness in communicating.

Tip #4 - Collaborative Communication

When communicating make it as personal as possible and give the parent something to do! My favorite sentence in my yearly review of each student is, "One thing that you could help us with at home is..." or "One way ____ would be encouraged is by..." Give the parents the words they need to be successful!

Tip #5 - Community!

Create Community by providing needs and fun opportunities. Appointing a recital host, goody providers, or volunteer work for your studio are easy ways to get the parents engaged. Have the parents come together for funny concerts, seminars, parent classes but also at the recitals, outside performances and fun bbqs or movie watching parties. Let them meet other parents and focus on community!

The teacher-parent side of the triangle cannot be ignored!

These 5 tips are just the start of this conversation: What are some of your favorite ways to communicate? What do you communicate in person, what do you communicate in email? Have you encountered tricky parent situations?

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