The tutors’ workshop on March 12th, 2021 focused on “How to Talk to Parents During Hojaji.”  At Toa, we use the Swahili word hojaji to mean “interview” and these interviews occur with parents of students we find to be in Tier 3, the group most lagging behind their peers after assessment (see the Response to Intervention model below).

It’s a sensitive matter to discuss with parents as some family members can be uncooperative or disbelieving, others can feel shame or want to punish the child.  So, the way the staff at Toa conduct the hojaji is critical.  We aim to create a safe space where we can say freely what we have discovered and parents and caregivers can ask questions and fill in family details.  After all, our goals are the same: to help the child and chart the best possible course of action for him or her going forward.

Please see the report from the preparatory workshop on hojaji below.

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“This report addresses how tutors should talk to parents when explaining challenges their children face at school especially during hojaji.  Some of the tutors fear how to talk to parents and some fail to talk to parents who are so harsh when explaining to them such challenges they have discovered, so this workshop was conducted to help them overcome these difficulties.  It’s important to understand how to approach and work with parents so that tutors can ensure a successful outcome of helping children to become good students, so this training was organized in a way to involve participants to share ideas.

Before the presentation, the facilitator, who was Tutor Leader Hyasinta, provided questions to the participants to discuss in groups.  The questions were:

  • Which ways do the tutors normally use to talk to the parent for the first time who doesn’t know the challenge of his/her child?
  • What is the importance of knowing how to talk to the parent for the first time?

Most of the time, parents know the challenges their children have but hide them because sometimes the source of the problem is parents themselves due to poor parenting.  Therefore, tutors need to be careful when talking to the parents during hojaji because the parents can sense blame and shame.  So, Hyasinta explained steps tutors should follow when talking to the parents such as:

  • Use polite language and be patient when telling what should be done in order to help the child.
  • Do not use some words directly if the child has disability; instead, the tutor can find a way of telling the parent that he or she has difficulties in learning.
  • Ask questions according to the hojaji paper and let the parent elaborate on each question clearly. Give enough time for the parent to explain the answer accordingly.
  • Explain to the parents on how children with special needs are being helped by Toa. For example, at Gabriella with parents’ contributions, or BCC after school.

After a theoretical model of instruction was used by the facilitator, discussions were opened where the participants asked questions, expressed their ideas, and offered opinions.  Some of the lessons learned and observations were:

  • To give parents accurate information on what tutors observe of the child and to think before speaking, especially when talking with parents about difficult or sensitive issues.
  • The best kind of communication is open, clear, and timely.
  • The conversation helps to demonstrate better social skills, fewer behavioral problems, and a greater ability to adapt to situations in order to help the child.

The conclusion from the facilitator was that understanding different ways of talking to parents should be helpful to tutors during hojaji and using those ways and asking questions to get clear answers will ultimately support the tutors to help their students.  Hyasinta recommended that good communicating between parents and teachers helps keep both sides informed and improves the academic performance of the children.”