Co-Piloting with Parents to Launch Successful Students

December 9, 2015 Jackie Christensen

A common challenge all of our schools face is handling parents who are taking an overactive role in piloting their child’s educational journey.

Helicopter, drone, data-driven, call it what you want, but it’s the child who misses out when not given the opportunity to take appropriate responsibilities and risks to develop into a competent adult.

How does your school draw appropriate boundaries when it comes to parent involvement?

That was the live survey question I posed during my Co-Piloting with Parents webinar a couple of weeks ago. In a matter of moments, attendees came back with some great answers that might resonate with approaches your school is taking in your efforts to keep your parents from overstepping a healthy level of engagement into the “hover zone”:

Set clear expectations to parents that it is up to the student to take ownership of their work, responsibilities, and that they need to learn to self-advocate. We do not share grade books and assignment section. When questioned about this encourage parents to take this as an opportunity to open up a dialogue with their child and ask their child how they think they are doing. Again giving the student the opportunity to self-evaluate and express where they may need help or have experienced success.

Monthly coffees with our Head of School on various topics. Monthly mashup newsletter. Total transparency and availability of Head of School and our student support team.  “Community conversations” (4-5 times/year) on parenting topics.

Encourage students to talk directly with teachers instead of have their parents ask the teachers questions.

Our school has pretty steady communication. We recently adopted the “ON” tools, so it allowed us to have this conversation explicitly. We only share grade books with students, faculty, coaches and advisors. This has allowed us to reiterate our ethos around the student’s responsibility for their own learning as families explore onCampus it allows us to continue the conversations.

While it’s critical for schools to draw boundaries to provide students the space to own their learning today’s parents, your paying customers, do still demand a certain level of connection and transparency.

In the session we covered effectively using technology to engage with parents. We provide a framework to categorize the types of online communication parents need. Using this framework schools can strategize around what content and resources they should focus on providing to keep parents satisfied and in the know. We share many different examples of how other schools provide communication that fall into the following categories: Productivity and Organization, Community Connection and Academic Performance.  

The onCampus Learning Management System along with the powerful universal communication tools such as Calendar, Directory and Resource Board within Core, give schools the ability to bump parents into the co-pilot seat and trust that their child’s best interests are being served.

You can view a recording of the webinar by logging into this site. Let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you!

About the Author

Jackie Christensen

As a Senior Product Manager, Jackie Christensen has been a member of Blackbaud K-12's product development team since the inception of the ON products. In fact, she was on site with the first school to launch onCampus and onRecord. She has loved the journey of working with schools and our UX and technical team to bring ideas to life with each release iteration. Jackie lives in NH with her husband Mark and 3 boys. Depending on the season, you’ll either find them at the lake or skiing.

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