For tutors, it can be quite a tough decision whether you should accept the friend request of your student’s parents.
On the one hand, letting them add you on social media will be a great avenue for them to reach out to you instantly.
On the other hand, this can blur the line between your work and personal life, especially if the parent in question tends to panic every single time they think their child is not performing in school.
If you are still torn about whether you should accept your student’s parent’s Facebook Friend Request, here’s what you need to know:
Cons: Boundaries are complicated enough
As tutors, it is important that we set clear guidelines and expectations with our students and their parents.
It is easy to blur the lines between a tutor and your students’ parents because you care about your students. Accepting a friend request on social media may send the wrong signal to the parents that you see them as friends when all you really want is to keep the relationship professional.
It may get awkward if one of your parents starts to confide in you in her personal problems. Instead of discussing important issues regarding your student’s education progress, she may use the time to offload her problems unto you.
As much as we are open to helping others, we need to constantly remind ourselves to remain professional. While making a trip to the nearest Popular bookstore to help to buy assessment books is fine, I would be drawing the line at helping to buy lunch and making sure my student is fed before my lesson starts.
Cons: You need to censor your words
When you accept Facebook friend request from parents, you will need to be careful with the information that is in your profile and what you share in it.
If you have a Facebook account where you are very vocal on certain topics such as religion and politics, your students’ parents may not share the same views and form a negative impression of you.
You may not want to post that photo of you wearing a bikini while grooving in a foam party and chugging down from a beer bottle as well.
If you are not too keen about second guessing each time you post on your account, it’s probably better to not be friends on facebook.
If parents insist to add you to facebook, or you really want to connect with them, then make sure that all your posts are about work and marketing your tutoring services. Alternatively, consider creating a separate work account.
Cons: They may expect unjust things from you
As an educator, you must treat all your students equally and they must be given all the opportunities they should be given.
However, if you add your student’s parents in your Facebook account, they may use it as a way to get favours from you. Some of them may start asking you to spend more time with their children without paying you extra because they consider you as a close friend.
Demanding parents may even wonder why you are able to publish your post but not able to answer their questions in your Facebook messenger. They may unreasonably expect you to be online everyday.
Pros: Facebook may be the only way they can speak to you
On the other hand, it is plausible that these parents’ preferred choice communication is through Facebook messenger.
Sometimes, emails can get lost in one’s inbox especially when it is a work email address. Work emails will take up more attention and overshadow yours. While phone calls and texts may also be ignored by some parents because of their busy schedule or preferences.
If you will be adding them in social media with this reasoning, let the parent know that you will only allow them to message you on their child’s progress during a reasonable waking hours like 9am to 9pm.
Pros: Facebook will help you connect more to your student and their parents
If you want to help students learn better, befriending their parents can help.
Through social media, you can reach out to these parents about their child’s progress and find ways to help the student learn better.
If you are the type of tutor who prefers to understand your students’ behaviour and customise your tutoring sessions based on the child’s needs, befriending the parents through Facebook can give you all the information you need.
Through their parent’s posts, you may gain an insight why your student is acting the way he is.
For example, if the parents keep posting updates about late night family movies at home, it is no wonder that their child can’t focus during lessons due to lack of sleep.
If your student’s parents really want to add you up on Facebook so they can get updates from you about their child’s progress, you can consider using Facebook Groups.
Through groups, you can post regularly and in private all the information your students’ parents want to see and schedule a meeting with them if they really wish to speak with you.
You can also consider creating two social media accounts with one used for work and the other used for personal use.
As a tutor, you have to think carefully if you will be using Facebook as a form of communicate with your students and parents, considering that not all parents may use it in the way you want them to.
You may have used Facebook to market yourself and attract potential income to sign up new customers at first. Once you secure your first tuition session with them, you should move the communication to other platforms like Whatsapp or Telegram.
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For more tutor tips to improve your communication with your student’s parents, check out these articles:
How to Communicate to Parents about their Child’s Progress
How to Get Useful Feedback from Your Student’s Parents