Tips in Handling Reluctant Parents

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Engaging a parent is a whole other task as a home tutor. Working as one, you will not only meet different kinds of students but also different kinds of parents. The types vary from time to time, but there are generally parents who are cooperative and work well with you to help in their child’s progress. A home tutor might also meet helicopter parents who continuous hover over their children and get all defensive when you give reports of their child not improving or even problems regarding the child. As such, you’ll also meet parents who are just absent in their child’s academic progress and you’ll only be able to talk to through phone calls or even through a third person.

Shaping a child to be a better individual and helping them reach academic satisfaction isn’t a one-man job. It’s not just the home tutor that should be involved in such aspects of a student’s life. While they are at the vanguard, they also still need the assistance of parents. However, for reluctant and uninvolved parents, this might be a problem for home tutors.

Dealing with parents such as this might be an inevitable aspect of home tutoring. That’s why we’ve compiled some tips to engage a reluctant parent.

1. Don’t assume they don’t care

While it’s easy to brand reluctant parents as uncaring parents, that’s not always the case. Some parents show their affection and love to their children differently from other parents. As we don’t know the full story about their parent-child dynamics, keep an open-mind and don’t judge them too harshly. If you think that the parent is not paying more attention to their children, approach the parent politely and discuss with them about the student’s progress. If they are actually invested in their child’s progress, they would listen and listen well.

2. Find out the reasons

There can be a myriad of reasons why some parents are not engaged in their child’s studies. It can vary from heavy workload to stress in household chores or taking care of other children. Sometimes, there are also other parents who trust their children too much to be independent and responsible on their own that they sometimes forget to also check on them.

As a home tutor, it’s important to not only build a relationship with your students but also with their parents. Talk with the parents if you can and discuss the reasons and factors that prevents them to be more engaged in their child’s academics and find a way to solve the problem. When doing this, remember tip #1 and do it as politely as you can. Many parents will feel defensive or offended when you discuss these matters with them. Let them understand that you are not judging them, instead, you want to offer assistance for them to be more engaged and involved in their child’s studies and progress.

3. Be flexible

One advantage that parents and students can get from home tuition is the flexibility offered by a home tutor. When you are hired as a home tutor, it’s important to make yourself available and accommodate any parent, especially those under unusual circumstances that prevents them from being as engaged in their child’s studies.

As most of the reasons for this will be parents being too busy with work, why not schedule a meet-up with the parents instead of asking to talk after every session? This way, you can prepare all the information you want to give them and things they need to know about their child’s academic performance. As such, you wouldn’t be interfering with their work or overstepping your boundaries. Make sure you schedule the meet-up during the days when they are free so you can use the time you need to discuss more with them. This can be done once a week or whichever the parent and the home tutor can agree in.

Help them understand the purpose of this so that they will not see these meet-ups as more of a chore. By discussing with them progress reports, you’ll help them become more aware of where the child is going or his/her standing in academics.

4. Share the big and small stories

Even parents who seem to be uninvolved also want to know what your plans as a home tutor are. You have to think of them as someone who still cares about what goes on during tuition. Share with them your plans, course of action, progress reports, and even stories about their child’s newfound skills. You can also share with them some methods you’ve used on the child that seem to be working well for them. As you do this, you can also discuss with them the ways they can follow-through home tuition during the times the home tutor wouldn’t be there. There can be many things to discuss with the parents. Sharing stories with them will not only make them feel involved in their child’s studies, they can also use these topics to discuss or ask questions further about their child’s education.

5. Use different ways of communication

If the parent isn’t always present during tutoring session, home tutors shouldn’t use this as an excuse to not also reach out to the parents and talk to them about the child. With the technology available now, there are multiple ways for you to communicate with your student’s parents that’s not restricted to actually talking in person.

You can use emails, text, messaging apps, or even leave notes for the parents if you can’t talk to them personally. You can also speak to someone the family trusts, may it be the student’s relative, and discourse with them in cases of sudden issues that needs resolving when the parents can’t be in contact. You shouldn’t limit yourself if the parents are also not communicating with you directly. There are multiple ways to reach them, you only have to find a way and discuss this with them.

Having different options for communication still gives the benefit of letting the parents know about their child’s progress even without directly speaking to them.

6. Be understanding

It’s very rare to encounter a parent who truly doesn’t care about their child’s performance in academics. Like stated above, there might be reason why they aren’t as engaged as other parents. Singaporean parents care about their children’s education and only want the best quality education for them. Which is why, they care about their child’s progress one way or another.

Ask them to also voice out their concerns about their child’s progress or struggles rather than just berating them with negative issues that may not even reflect on their child. Let them speak as well as speak to them. If it’s just the home tutor doing all the talking during progress reports or meetings, the parents will be overwhelmed with this. You should also ask them about their opinions, suggestions, and apprehensions about their child’s progress. Better yet, ask the parents if they need assistance in any areas of the student’s learning that they are also worrying in.

You should stay positive and show understanding of the situation rather than overwhelming the parents. This will also show your professionalism and compassion of the students. It will show the that you are confident in your skills and abilities to offer assistance so that the student can reach their goals and true potential.

7. Offer solutions

When coming up to parents with problems, be sure you can also offer a solution or an alternative that will help alleviate the situation or problem. Some parents may not even be aware that their involvement can make a difference in their child’s progress. By raising awareness about this, they might become more involved with the student’s growth and progress.

Offer them solutions that will show their involvement to their child’s studies. It might be as simple as suggesting they send out an inspirational message or a congratulatory message to their child after or after their exams or tests. The smallest token can greatly impact on their child’s progress and determination to do better in school. This way, they will realize that they should show their support and involvement more to help the child get better results.


As a home tutor, you will face more challenges than just teaching students. You will have to deal with multiple student personalities, multiple types of students, multiples student struggles, and even multiple kinds of parents.

It’s inevitable that you’ll encounter a reluctant or an uninvolved parent throughout your career. However, before judging too harshly, make sure to know and understand the reasons first and work on the ways on how you can help them become more engaged in their child’s academic development.

If you are interested in becoming a home tutor, check out FamilyTutor, Singapore’s best home tuition agency. We offer over 200 subjects, such as Math, Science, English, and many more, to students from pre-school to even beyond university. We make sure to match home tutors according to the student’s needs to guarantee optimal progress.

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Carelle is a teacher who has been through the ups and downs of the teacher and learner life. She wishes for every learner to gain educational satisfaction that will help embody the people they want to be in the future.

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