Stand firm on this one unless there are extreme extenuating circumstances. Offer to answer any last-minute questions if there is time before school or between classes. Reassure the parent that there have been x number of review days to prepare students for the assessment. If this request comes as an email, you could also reply to it after their child has taken the test, making it a moot point.
“Can my child turn in his work late?” See the above reasons.
Inevitably a student will need to turn in an assignment late now and again. Life happens. To avoid handling this request on a case-by-case basis, I set up a freebie system for daily work in my middle school classes. Each term every student gets an exemption from a daily assignment – no questions asked. They are responsible for practicing the material in time for the next assessment, but they do not have to hand it in. If a parent requests that another assignment during the term be handed in late, then I can have a conversation about why they have missed TWO daily assignments. Parents are less likely to push back when there might be a pattern developing around missed daily work. I taught my students to use their freebie thoughtfully. They should plan ahead for an upcoming late-night event, birthday, or another busy day.
“My child is unable to attend any of the tutorial sessions you offer. Are you available every day after 8 pm or before 7 am to help her with her homework?
Reiterate to the parent which days/times you are available for extra help. If their child has questions outside of the offered times, list out the resources that are available to them such as notes, the textbook, online resources, contacting a classmate, or (if you have the time) make a short video of yourself explaining the concept that they can watch at any time. To avoid this issue altogether, my school’s math department scheduled one math teacher to be on duty every morning and every afternoon for tutorials. If a student had a math question, they could pop in before or after school to ask a question – they may not have been able to see their own math teacher, but at least they could get their question answered.
“I see that my child left her science project on the kitchen table. Can I bring it to school so that she won’t lose credit?
Some schools are clear about not allowing parents to deliver homework and projects to school. There are various reasons for this — one being equity and another being to teach kids responsibility. If your school does not have a policy regarding parents delivering assignments to their children, then it is very difficult to prevent this as an individual teacher. If it is important to you that students are not allowed to accept school day deliveries from parents, there are steps you can take to prevent it.
- Set an expectation at Parent Night that parents are NOT expected to bring forgotten assignments to school. Stress the importance of responsibility and equity in your reasoning. Most parents will be relieved that this is not expected or acceptable.
- Set a rolling due date for major projects. For example, the science project is due the week of Sept 20. This is a smoke and mirrors tactic to hide the fact that the real due date is the Friday of that week but you’ll accept projects starting Monday. (This also makes grading more manageable because projects trickle in over a five-day range.)
- Do not allow a student to call their parents from school to request homework/project delivery. The older students might sneak an email or text to ask their parents to bring an assignment, but you can discourage this by reiterating to students that asking parents to deliver their work promotes inequality and irresponsibility. (They probably won’t care but at least you shared your two cents.)
“My child would prefer to be in Mr. Feeney’s class, or my child needs to be in advanced-level math, or my child prefers to take English in the mornings, can she switch classes?”
Hopefully, your school has a policy regarding how a student places into leveled classes. If this is the case, refer the parent back to the posted policy of requirements. If the class change request is not related to a leveled class, this is something that can be immediately escalated to the administration.
“My child does not get along with Trouble Jones, Jr. Can you make sure they do not socialize together during the school day?”
Kids move in and out of friendships like a Houston driver changes lanes on I–10. One day they are best friends, and the next day they call each other stupid smelly-face. It is ok to ask two students who are having a rough patch to give each other space because, as the educator, you can observe the temperature of their relationship every day. Parents are not close to what’s happening with friendships on the playground at recess. Parents also often only hear one side of the story. Reassure parents that students are closely monitored and that they are taught restorative practices and conflict resolution. Parents might need assurance that mistreatment is never tolerated, but also we want to keep the path clear for a potential repair in their friendship. If a parent is worried about their child being bullied or physically harmed (even if it is an unjustified concern), stay in frequent communication with the concerned parent so they can feel confident that their child is safe and happy at school.