parents and families

Having good relations with parents and families of children is essential to a teacher of Bahá’í children’s classes. Unlike the distant, disengaged relationships we often see between parents and teachers in a modern school setting, the relationship between a teacher and the parents and families of children in a Bahá’í children’s class should be characterized by friendliness, trust and close fellowship. Practically, we can achieve this by making a habit of friendly conversation with family members whenever we see them, for instance, when picking up and dropping off children, or whenever we see them in the neighbourhood. We should concentrate on sharing those gems that we have discovered in their children—the virtues we’ve observed in them, their special talents and capacities. Many parents are wary of teachers complaining about how “terrible” their children are, so it’s important for us to show that we seek a constructive and positive relationship with them, and that we seek to work together with them.

Parents and family members are often the most deeply concerned with the education and welfare of children in their family, and can become active and dedicated helpers—especially youth, who are so full of energy, vitality and the will to make their mark on the world. As we make deeper connections with the people who live in our neighbourhoods, we can learn how to speak about our path of service and learn how to engage receptive souls and invite them to walk the same path. Receptive parents can be engaged to help with logistics—for instance, hosting a class in their home, offering transportation, or providing after-class snacks; they can also be asked to help with parts of the class, for example, teaching a song, telling a story, sharing a craft, or making some other kind of presentation. Some parents have an interesting job that the children might like to learn about, such as a firefighter, a scientist, a farmer, a doctor, or a veterinarian; they could be invited to tell the children about what they do. Some might have other skills to share—for example, helping children to bake cookies for a special occasion.

Some parents and family members may not be so receptive to our efforts to engage them, and in fact, they may be quite disengaged from their children, their needs and their education. Rather than becoming discouraged, it’s best to focus on those people who are receptive, while arming ourselves with patience and perseverance for the rest. Generally, we can continue to engage with families, talking with them and getting to know them better, as long as they’re willing to engage with us. Fortunately, those who are genuinely hostile tend to be rare; as long as we maintain perfect honesty and transparency about our desire to serve our communities, and we effectively present the aims and nature of our children’s class, most people we meet will look quite positively on our efforts, regardless of how engaged or interested they are.

experience

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