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pushy parents

Discussion in 'Primary' started by mystery10, Feb 10, 2011.

  1. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I think those are good suggestions - but be prepared to do this for all the parents!!
    Not only do parents not have anything to compare their children's work with, they frequently do not have sight of their own child's schoolwork either, so they are worrying at home in a complete vacuum. Does this mother get to see her own child's school work in any meaningful way?
    Parents have different approaches to the lack of information ranging from "oh well what will be will be", through to "let's assume school is a disaster and do everything at home, and then if later on we find out that school was great that's a plus point."
    I trained years ago, and taught secondary. At that point these above expectations, below expectations phrases were not popular. I have to say that receiving such a phrase as a parent would do nothing for me. And if a school told me my child was average and they were doing well to achieve above average it would concern me.

  2. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    The phrase 'pushy parents' can hide sins on both parents' and teachers' sides. Theres a lot of anxiety out there!
  3. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Absolutely - some conscientious parents are anxious, and some conscientious teachers are anxious. And then some parents and teachers get anxious about children being anxious. Anxiety is a bit like educational attainment - it's very hard to put your finger on exactly what causes it. Some parents would think that doing some extra work at home would make the child feel more confident in the classroom situation, others would agree with this teacher that it might make things work. Who knows?!
    I would still be grateful for the keen parents. I don't think they are going to cause half as much damage as the ones who really are not interested. Children who are having activities pushed at them by their parents that they don't want to participate in (whether educational or not) will in the end not play ball. And if it's a few fun "educational games" at home with Mum, what's the problem. A few flashcards never killed anybody. The truly overpushed child is more likely to end up rebellious at home than anxious. It may not manifest itself at school at all. Unreasonably high expectations and belittling are more likely to cause damage, not the educational games and flashcards themselves.
    For me the best parent - teacher relationship would be one which involved a sharing of information on an equal footing, and nothing along the lines of do this, or don't do this from either side ----- discussion of possible strategies at home and at school etc, an acceptance from teachers that the child does not entirely belong to the school and that the parent does have a valuable role in the child's education, and an acceptance from parents that teachers have to do things in a way that will work best for all children in a classroom setting, without the luxury of much one to one time.
  4. Well said. As both parent and teacher I suffer from double anxiety - so appreciate parents who show the same tendencies much more than those who don't give a fig! Been there, done that. I always remember my son's year 6 teacher (after an apparently disastrous set of SATs results) calming me down at a meeting where I was convinced the school had failed him, I had failed him and he would end up as some sort of teenage delinquent at the local comp by saying she had absolutely no doubt that young WBAT would do fine at secondary and to "stop worrying ".
    I did and she was right - he blossomed and I relaxed. But I totally appreciated her down to earth comment grounded in years of experience. Great teaching, great advice.
  5. Thank you so much for all of your replies. There is lots of really good advice and support there and I am really grateful for it. :)

    I have arranged a meeting with her and I will approach it from a 'concerned about his wellbeing even though he is doing well' angle. I was a bit stressed when I wrote the original post and of course I would not use the term pushy parent of above expectations with the parent herself.
  6. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    You still seem pretty sure that it is extra work at home that is stressing the child. But if you tackle it in an open ended way with Mum, by saying he seems a bit anxious and lacking in confidence, you might find yourself in a situation where she clams up (there could be something difficult going on at home which she feels is the reason but she won't want to tell this to a teacher e.g. a relationship going wrong etc), or one where she tells you some things that you don't quite know how to react to e.g. other children saying things he doesn't like to him in the playground. I really would go into this one with no assumptions.
    It is lovely that you have called a meeting with this parent because you are concerned by what you see in her son. But the fact that you have called her to a meeting, rather than that she has approached you because her son is unhappy in some way or struggling with the work, may place her in an awkward situation, or get her extremely worried. You know why you have called her in - her son seems anxious - she doesn't know why this is resulting in you calling her in. Do you call in the parent of every child that seems anxious? If you don't, she might get the message that you think her child is extremely anxious. Is he?
    Do tread carefully. If you didn't know that this lady did extra work at home with her child, would you have called this meeting, and how would you tackle it?
  7. Thank you mystery10. I tend to have quite close communication with the parents I see daily when they pick their children up from school so in most cases I do not need to call a meeting if their children are anxious as I chat to them before and after school most days. However in this case a meeting was necessary because he is dropped off by a relative and is picked up from after school club by a relative so it is the only way I can discuss things with her.

    IMy main concern is that he seems to feel a lot of pressure to excel at school. We do have high expectations at our school but I am sure that we do not put pressure on children to attain certain standards. I am concerned that he feels so anxious about his work when he has clearly understood it and is able to have a go at it. He often comes into school and says "I am really tired today so I'm not sure that I can do too much". I just want to let mum know that this is going on and work together to help him but I do feel that it needs to be a two-way partnership which is why I wondered whether to discuss what they do at home or not.
  8. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Oh Ok, so she should feel pleased that you have made time for her because she doesn't get the chance other parents do to see you casually most days, presumably because of her work.
    Does he seem genuinely tired? Maybe he is not getting enough sleep, or maybe he is paraphrasing something a parent says at bedtime - e.g. go to sleep now or you won't be able to do your best at school tomorrow.
    I have volunteered with quite a few year 5s and 6s who have fallen behind and I can honestly say that the thing that would have made the biggest difference to their educational progress was to go to bed several hours earlier each night.
    So if you think she is pushy, maybe you can dole out a bit of educational research on how lack of sleep can affect your IQ by a significant number of points. This will appeal to genuinely pushy parent. Maybe you can talk about how enriching reading to a child can be - even up to early secondary age. You could help her find books which he could not read himself but that she would enjoy reading to him, and he would enjoy listening to. This would be a relaxing activity for them both, a good precursor to sleep, and would significantly improve his vocab and comprehension. Or some fun games, that have educational value she can plainly see, but that you think would be more relaxing for him than whatever it is she is currently doing.
  9. yes - i was thinking it was the possible? probable? lack of sleep i would focus on - also need for downtime/playtime - again, how kids (and adults!) need a certain amount of r&r as well as sleep to be at their intellectual/creative best
    but at the same time - my 2 didn't need, or weren't prepared to get, much sleep - and i remember setting them daft pseudo-academic tasks when they were small and demanding, because if i had to play 'shops' once more, i would have to have eaten my own right leg
  10. I am a primary teacher and a parent of two young graduates. As a parent, and over a period beginning when my children were in KS1, I've observed so many 'pushy parents' and the impact on their offspring: ranging from high academic achievement - but little in the way of interpersonal skills (you know, those skills which employers/Universities use to select because there are so many 'A' grades around these days); and, tragically, to self-harming (you may be amazed how common this is).
    I would recommend any teacher concerned about pushy parents to read pp.14-15 of Dr Tim Cantopher's book on "Depressive Illness". On these pages he tracks the development of clinical depression, beginning with the average child who - by hard work rather than high intelligence - achieves at a high level.

    But I don't know how you can get this message across to parents.

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