Your preschoolers, and their families, are not just your preschool families. They are your preschool family. There is real trust and respect built between you, and a bond that is just like family. This is why it can be particularly difficult when conflicts arise, and they will. Here are a few tips to quickly and calmly solve preschool parent conflicts.
The most important thing that you can do for your preschool families when there is a conflict is to listen to their concerns. Open and honest communication with your preschool families is essential to providing the best care and education to your preschoolers. Even if you do not agree with them, take their concerns seriously and acknowledge them. Letting your preschool families know that you understand their concerns can go a long way. Often times, when a parent feels heard they are then able to suggest solutions of their own.
Sometimes a parent may have a concern that really isn’t a problem, but they just do not realize all of the work that is done behind the scenes. For example, a parent may be upset because they do not think that you are properly preparing their child for Kindergarten because they do not see any worksheets or other work being sent home. In this case, clarifying your teaching philosophy and your teaching process can put the parents worries at ease. If this happens, you need to come up with a plan on how to better communicate what your preschoolers are learning, and how, with your families.
When it is an issue of something that has happened in the classroom, it isn’t uncommon for the parent to not have all of the information. Their preschooler tells them something, and they take it at face value. For example, if their preschooler comes home and tells them, “My teacher doesn’t let me play”, they may get upset with you. You can clarify that you had to have their child leave the building, blocks, and loose parts center because they were not being respectful of their friends’ work.
ASK FOR ADVICE
If a solution to the conflict is not clear, then asking a fellow teacher for help can be beneficial. Sometimes having someone who is not involved in the conflict, but can relate to the situation, can make things much clearer. Your fellow colleagues can offer their experience and knowledge to assist you in finding a solution for you and the parent.
OFFER A SOLUTION
When there is a conflict with one of your preschool parents, you must offer a solution. However, if a concern is brought to your attention with no solution in mind, and you do not have an immediate solution, it is okay. Let them know that you take their concerns seriously and you are going to take some time to give it more thought to help come up with the best solution. Keep the parent informed of what you are doing to help the situation. Let them know that you are getting advice from a colleague who has dealt with a similar situation in the past or that you will be getting the administration involved.
GET YOUR ADMINISTRATION INVOLVED
Most of the time, after listening to the parents concerns, attempting to clarify the situation, and asking your colleagues for advice, there is a clear solution to the problem. However, there are times when it is more difficult to resolve a conflict with your preschool families and then, you need to get your administration involved. They can give you guidance on how to handle the problem, work with you and the parents, or take over the situation and let you focus on your classroom. Either way, you administration is there to guide and support you.
It can be very stressful and emotional when there is a conflict with a preschool parent. Be calm and resolve the issue as quickly as you can. When parents feel heard and know that you take their concerns seriously, they are better able to collaborate with you to reach a solution, too.