Why is it that parents look outside the school’s services for additional help?
They say that it takes a village to raise a child. These days that ‘village’ often seems to include a range of specialists that never used to be as common. From private tutors, counselors, psychologists, food therapists, even personal trainers, there has been a proliferation of personnel that concerned parents of financial means bring in to support their children.
So why does this happen?
Sometimes parents look for outside support when the school already has those services. It is understandable when parents seek help for things the school doesn’t offer, but why do they sometimes not take full advantage of the skills and services already available to them? Here are six possible reasons why parents might choose to look outside your school:
Lack of Awareness. Parents may not be fully aware of the full range of skills and services already available to them. This might be because they haven’t taken the time to engage with the school, but it might also be because the school hasn’t made that information as available and accessible to reduce that lack of awareness.
Communication. Parents can find it hard to navigate the complexities of schools. They may not know how to work with a school to access a service. They can struggle to know who to speak to or how to address an issue their child may be having. This can be particularly challenging for parents whose first language is not the operating language of the school. Effective communication requires accessibility.
Time and Energy. Many parents know that the best outcome for their child is a collaborative home-school approach to access a service. However, many working parents do not have the time or energy to give the amount of time needed to work with schools. Reaching outside of school, despite the cost, can sometimes feel like a much easier and effective solution.
Guilt. Education can be a breeding ground for social competition. Some parents fear that they are failing their child if they do not pay for additional educational services like “all the other parents”. This is a perception that pulls a parent’s emotional strings.
Urgency. The pandemic has hit many young people incredibly hard. Some parents are worried that if they do not quickly access services then their children may struggle with the next stage of their learning and or develoment. It can sometimes be quicker to access services from outside the school, and outside the school day.
Lack of confidence. The pandemic has not only hit children. Its legacy has and is being felt by teachers. Even the most supportive parents may worry that struggling teachers might not be in the best position to provide the additional support their child needs. This mix of empathy and frustration – even anger – may lead to parents seeking outside help.
It is a useful exercise to explore the possible reasons why parents in your community are making decisions to seek outside services. Sensitive conversations between the school and parents might lead to positive benefits on both sides, with the benefits being felt by those who matter most – the students.