Communicating with Your Child’s Teacher

They don’t tell you, but there are a few things that teachers dread. Teachers loathe with great emotion the parent who helicopters over their child and only sees the most perfect human being in the world. Teachers can not stand a parent who preaches to them when we see your child in a different light. Most of all, teachers can not stand being told how to run their classroom. If any of the above mentioned is you, then you must reconsider your approach when speaking to your child’s teacher. Here are some scenarios and solutions for productive conversation with your child’s teacher.

Your child is struggling in the class.
If you child is getting a bad grade then you have to consider the reasons for your child’s failure before approaching the teacher. Ask yourself if your child is truly doing their work and rising to the challenge the content is offering to them. If indeed you child is working diligently, approach the situation by asking the teacher to assist the learning process through extra help. It is important to find days and times that work for the teacher’s schedule, even if it means dropping off your child a little early to school! Pitfall: Do NOT begin the conversation asking the teacher to raise your child’s grade through extra credit. This is a sure-fire way to aggravate the situation. If there was extra credit available then ask how this might assist your child in the learning process as well as helping them to raise their grade.

Your child is having trouble socially in class.
This one you need to approach with care. Is your child feeling out of place with peers? Does the teacher have assigned seats? Every teacher has a different approach to classroom organization. Classrooms tend to be very organized with assigned seating in primary grades and become less organized (with students choosing their own seats) in high school. Socially, where you child is placed in class (and with whom) can make a big difference in the learning experience for you child. If your child is easily distracted, point this out to the teacher so they can move your child to a quieter part of the classroom with less distraction. If you feel your child is intimidated by classmates you must address the situation gently. At times, it is worse for you to intervene directly with the teacher and have your child identified as the cause of seat assignment change. This may lead to more ridicule.

Your child is the cause of mischief in the class.
There is only one thing to do here. Listen, listen, listen. Stop talking and here what your child’s teacher has to say. If you interrupt or deny any wrongdoing on the part of your child, you will miss valuable information. Whether you believe or not that your child can be the source point of trouble, you must hear the teacher out. In either situation the teacher believes that your child is instigating trouble. After you hear what the teacher has to say it is best to relay your thoughts in a manner that lets the teacher know you are listening even if you do not agree.

Your child’s needs are not being addressed.
This is the one situation where you can directly intervene. If your child has an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) then you have a right to make sure that the teacher provides the accommodations that are mandated by the child study team. Be sure to make positive suggestions rather than accusations when discussing your child’s learning needs. It is important to begin with a compliment and praise for what the teacher has already done for your child rather than what has not been done.

Teacher conversations are an integral part of being involved with your child’s education. It is important for parents and teachers to view their roles as a joint venture. The ultimate goal being the most fruitful education of your child.