Teaching a child with a demanding parent

strict parent, overwhelmed teacher and school girl

The demanding parent wants creative teaching

A controlling and demanding parent asked her daughter’s English teacher to design a creative, engaging, motivating course for her child. She refused to pay for any more lessons until the course was exactly as she wanted. However, the teacher does not have the time to create an English course from scratch for one child! The teacher wants to do exercises to bring up the child’s level and fill in some gaps. But the mother wants creative courses, not textbooks, although she does want the teacher to cover the curriculum.

Don’t reinvent the wheel

Creating a course from scratch is a huge job. It’s not realistic for an English teacher to write all their material from scratch. Follow a standard curriculum. This work has been done for you in many textbooks. Therefore, the solution lies in teaching the textbook content creatively.
For example, I recommend the curriculum in my plays or stories. Alternatively, find a textbook and note the content of each unit. Since the mum wants to see the course but doesn’t want a textbook, copy the course content and teach it with games and role-plays, not gap-fills and worksheets. For example:

Lesson 1: Greetings, to be, etc. (whatever is in the unit of the textbook)

Lesson 2: Revision and talking about where you live, talking about yourself.

And so on.

Use creative methods to teach the same old stuff!

Your language summary should reassure the demanding parent that you know your stuff and have produced a relevant and coherent curriculum. As for the creative methods, tell her you will use games, drama, stories, and maybe songs.

Now the demanding parent is reassured that you have a road map. Tell them to let you start, and see how her child likes the lessons. After all, it’s your job to be the teacher. If the parent can’t trust you to do it, she’ll have to find someone else – but don’t get to that part yet! Just see if you can get your foot in the door, get started, using games and skits. And follow the routine below.

The method

Teach content – i.e., grammar and vocabulary

Spend part of your lessons teaching the content from the curriculum unit, story, or skit using drill games, grammar games, memory games, etc. Use listening, speaking, reading, and writing games to teach all the target vocabulary and grammar.

Be creative with a skit

My skits are perfect for creative one-to-one lessons. First, teach everything through games. Check this post on preparing short plays in English for a detailed example of the process. Then start to put the skit together. You’ll manage one play every 2-6 lessons, depending entirely on how fast the child learns and their level. In the case of this particular pupil, the teacher tells me that she doesn’t like acting. No problem, I BET she won’t mind having her dolls playing the parts. So you take one doll and do her lines; the pupil takes another and does the lines for the second part. (All my skits for kids are written for one-to-one as well as small groups.)

Use stories

People love stories, so include them in your teaching. If teaching kids, try my stories and have dolls and toys act them out. Use other toys as props to create the scenery and stage the action.


Progress and keeping the parent in the loop

The demanding parent will need progress reports, so as soon as you have a skit presentable with the dolls, prepare a 5-minute show. Firstly, show off the vocabulary you have taught by holding up flashcards and having the pupil name them. Secondly, show your skit with the dolls (or with the pupil if they like acting – and MOST children do, the dolls are only for the super-shy ones. Thirdly, interview your student with basic questions, with fake microphones, as if they are a personality, such as a favourite singer of the pupil. However, if that is too difficult, just interview the pupil as herself. What’s your name? Where do you live? Do you like ice cream? Etc.



If the mum wants the child to do homework, have them learn three new words a day following the method outlined here: How to become bilingual. Three words a day might not sound like much, but it’s 21 words a week and 84 words a month!



For skits, try this free one as a test. FREE SKIT FOR KIDS

If you want more resources because you teach the same child several hours per week, I suggest getting one of my stories curricula. There you have everything you need, stories, creative lesson plans with games, the possibility to role-play the stories, flashcards for the games, and even songs for some of the stories.


For kids age 6-10, try these About Me or Daily Life series. These are creative courses designed to teach beginners to reach A1 CERFA or ACTFL Novice Levels. Wherever you are in the world, these stories teach all the standard basics that beginners learn, whatever their textbook.


Feel free to ask for help anytime! Ask me your question in the blog comments below or by email if you prefer. I’m here to help.

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