Video Conferencing Makes All the Difference for Single Parents at Parent-Teacher Meetings

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video conferencing parent teacher meetings

Did National Parent Involvement Day pass you by?

It is set aside to “honor and highlight” the contribution parents make to their children’s education, both at home and at school. But if you missed your piece of that particular cake because you were too busy balancing a career or other children, then video conferencing is here to help.

For instance, using an instant video link brings a whole new level of flexibility and innovation to the parent/teacher interview. However, first let’s ratchet up the level of difficulty and make this particular meeting a single-parent/teacher interview.

Here are four examples of how video conferencing could make life a little easier for single parents.

Working Out a Schedule

There are almost 12 million single-parent families in the U.S. that include children under 18. And that number is growing. It is currently estimated that 26% of American kids live with a single parent, a figure that has risen 4% over the past five years, and is six times higher than it was in 1960.

That’s a lot of parents who have to juggle multiple roles as caretaker, provider, and unpaid tutor.

Under those circumstances, moving the parent/teacher meeting to a remote video call makes it a lot easier to find time to chat productively. Parents can now sit down face-to-face with their child’s teacher wherever they can find the requisite 20 minutes or so. A quiet moment at work, at home, or in a park–with mobile video calling, wherever can really mean wherever.

For a single parent, staying at home and staying within the established routine is going to make it a lot easier to balance responsibilities. It eliminates the need to call on someone to watch the kids, therefore disrupting the familiar process that’s important to their development. It lets the parent navigate through returning home from work, doing the school run, and getting everyone fed and ready for bed just as they would any other night.

With a little cooperation from teachers, the flexibility could extend not just to ‘wherever,’ but to ‘whenever,’ too. Parent/teacher meetings are generally held after school hours, but since the video calling format offers so much flexibility for both teachers and parent, there’s an opportunity for meetings during a broader range of hours.

Keeping It Civil

Nearly half the moms and dads heading single-parent families are divorced or separated. Sadly, that’s most often going to mean things are a little fraught when it comes to shared parental responsibilities, such as keeping in touch at school.

But the proliferation of group video chat providers means it’s simple to set up a meeting between a school-based teacher and two separately located parents. Anyone can play host, and attendees don’t even have to share membership to the same video conferencing platform, as many services will let non-subscribers join the chat through a software-based web browser link.

Again, meeting online means it is far easier to find a match in everyone’s schedules, and it can bring together parents separated by location and emotion.

Virtual Show and Tell

Once everyone has found a quiet corner of their world in which to discuss their child’s progress in school, the teacher can begin showing examples of classroom work, as they would during an in-person meeting.

Many VC platforms now let you share PC, laptop, and mobile screens across the internet, even old standards like Skype.

Teachers also now have the option of scanning writing samples and artwork into their computer as image files or pdfs and sharing them on screen. A basic document camera can also be used to show off art or other classroom work, and many can easily double as a webcam.

For a parent this ability means being able to visually explore your child’s classroom while still watching over them at home or at play.

Bringing Home to School

One thing that the two-way communication of video conferencing can bring to the parent/teacher meeting that an in-school session never could is a reversal of the traditional information flow.

Parents can turn their cameras around and let the teacher get a sense of what a student is getting up to at home.

Such meetings are at least partially designed as a chance for parents to raise their own concerns and interests, rather than wait passively for the teacher to take control. What better way than to connect those queries with a tour of the child’s personal world?

Now the virtual parent/teacher meeting moves beyond replicating the in-person experience and actually becomes a more powerful way of communicating, just the way video conferencing should be.

Image Source: Flickr CC User USAG Humphreys

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