Why do you need to stay connected with your students’ parents?
Staying connected with parents is an important part of running a successful tutoring company. Your students are the people you interact with regularly so their experience, as well as their opinion of your instruction, is of great value. However, it is the parents who have invested in your services and trusted you with their most prized possession(s). It is these parents who will decide if your service is a worthwhile investment, and they will be the ones to share their opinions with other people.
What do parents need to know?
It’s important that you stay connected with parents for the purpose of logistics, like scheduling, school assignments, billing, etc. In addition to these logistical details, parents want to know how their students are progressing as they are tutored. Parents don’t always know what’s going on with their students at school until there’s a bigger problem, so as the students’ tutor or academic coach it’s important to find a way to communicate with parents regularly about their students’ progress and there are several reasons why. The first reason is that parents have come to you to solve a problem. They need to know that the problem is being addressed. Another reason to maintain regular communication is in the case that there are any significant issues (i.e. with the students’ behavior, ability to learn what you’re teaching them, poor attendance, etc.), parents should know sooner rather than later. If the parents are the last to know about these issues, they might make assumptions about the quality of your instruction. Lastly, it’s important for you to personalize the experience that you are offering parents. Reaching out regularly with details and anecdotes about the child’s challenges and successes demonstrates a deeper level of commitmentment to their child’s academic and personal growth.
How should you go about staying in touch with parents?
The idea that distance learning is going to negatively affect your ability to stay connected with all your students and their parents just aren’t true. In the age of smartphones, email, texting, social media, and video conferencing technology, we have more than enough tools to maintain communication with parents. In fact, these are tools all educators should be exploring and implementing to communicate with parents regardless of a pandemic. You may even find that there are some parents who prefer to communicate virtually because of the work and/or family responsibilities they have to tend to. Think about it – you have a busy day at work and/or you’re running a household with kids – the last thing you really want to do is run across town to a 15-minute meeting with your child’s teacher(s) or tutor. The opportunity cost is too high. The same parents may be a lot more inclined to speak to you on the phone or jump on a video conference call given the convenience.
Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule, and certain parents prefer to meet face to face. But with parents and their children always on the go, fast and easy, regular exchanges of information may be best. These parents want to be able to interact in a time and space that works best for them. When you are providing a service like tutoring, the burden of communication lies in your court, not on the parent or child. Nothing you do should be adding to the parents’ plate.
How can you let parents know you care to create buy-in?
All that being said, you are a business. You need to figure out how to make parents want to communicate with you and to get them to emotionally buy into the tutoring that you are offering as well as the supportive experience you provide. Keep parents updated regularly on the child’s progress in a way that works best for the parent, ask for feedback, and provide them with strategies and/or tools for helping their children practice their skills.
In addition, reaching out to parents with resources, activities, and/or strategies that they can work on with their students is a good way to stay connected. Reaching out to families during the change in seasons and/or during the holiday seasons, to say hello, or to share fun facts, is a good way of letting your students’ families know that you care about your students beyond their tutoring sessions. Parents have their pick of the litter when it comes to tutors, but it is the quality of the connection that you make with students and their parents that will determine their commitment to a working relationship with you. Willingness to go the extra mile will determine short-term versus long-term relationships, and ultimately, a successful tutoring business!