How to Speak to School Teachers So that You Can See What You Need for Your Kid
Every child has had one: the teacher who just won’t play nice. Sometimes it’s an older teacher who’s just done like last Thanksgiving’s turkey. Sometimes they love the girls, and you have an ADHD boy. It could just be a bad personality mix. Whatever the situation, you and your child have to learn to play nice. Before you run to the principal to demand a new teacher, try these tips for a more productive parent-teacher relationship.
Talk Less, Listen to Them More, and Be Present
You know the sun rises and sets above your child’s head, but it’s possible that your teacher doesn’t agree. The fact is, your child’s teacher has a much different perspective than you; can you imagine teaching your child math, especially when they’re hungry or tired? It makes you shudder, right? So before you offer your view on why your child’s teacher is all wrong, take a few minutes and listen. It could be good advice for the open-minded parent.
While you don’t need to harass your child’s teacher with endless phone calls, emails, and impromptu visits if Mrs. Appleby has said that focus is an issue, check-in after one month to see if demonstrable progress has been made. Of course, this tactic only yields positive effects if you practice the modification techniques suggested (see pointer #1). If you keep in touch with your child’s teacher via email, avoid using names for Internet privacy reasons.
Get Involved in Person
A telemarketer calls your house and asks for financial help supporting a political candidate. You hang up. You get mail every day soliciting for everything from Xtrema Cookware to environmental causes. You glance at it, spend some time dreaming and maybe throw it out. Now a teen appears at your doorstep, selling Girl Scout Cookies. You didn’t slam the door, did you?
The point? Get involved. It’s a lot harder for teachers and administrators to say no to your requests or ignore your pleas for help if they have to face you. Plus, it’s in their best interests to help the best product of all, your child! Volunteer for your PTA or in the classroom, library, or lunchroom; it’s a great way to show your face without being overbearing. And your child will get a huge kick out of seeing you, too.
In a classroom of 20 children, there are (hopefully) at least 20 parents who are pushing to get their kids noticed. Don’t be surprised if your efforts are met with silence at first. While getting nasty will elicit a response, it may not be the response you want. Remember, you can catch more flies with honey.
State your needs clearly, repeatedly and politely. Even if you think you have about as much chance of getting your way as your child does of going to the moon on her next field trip, you’d be surprised at how often teachers and administrators want to accommodate your wishes.
Never Play the "Because I Said So" Card. Communicate!
Never say, "because I said so!" It is important to give children a valid excuse as to why they cannot do something. With a better explanation from you, they may begin to see and understand why they cannot do something. It is also important to let your child argue their point as to why they should be able to do something. This way, a collaborative decision can be made that will make your child feel more involved in decision-making. It's also important not to make an excuse, "when you're older, you will understand." Give them real reasons!
Be a Role Model
Children act on what their parents say and do. So, when around your children, say only what you would want them to say and act how you would want them to act. Children want someone to look up to, and they know what is appropriate and what is not. If you act as a responsible role model for your children, they will be proud of that.
After all, an involved parent is far preferable to a noncommittal one.