Date: March 1, 2009
Communication with your children’s teachers is always important. However, the nature of that communication changes with the years. The younger your children are, the more essential it is to ensure that problems, even small ones, are handled early so they won’t become serious.
As children advance through school, most begin to take on the responsibility of communicating directly with their teachers without relying on your help. In fact, middle and high school students often are reluctant to have parents speak to their teachers. This can be a positive step in growing up.
To know when to talk to a teacher, listen carefully when your children complain about school. They will probably say most unpleasant events had nothing to do with their own actions, which may or may not be the case. Asking what happened to precipitate the event may get the child to see that he or she might have played a role in causing it.
Talking over how to handle similar events the next time can teach a child how to avoid them in the future. Also, role-play with your child how he or she can talk with a teacher about a problem.
No matter the age of the child, there are times when parents must get involved. Listening to your child will help you know when. Don’t rush over to the school every time your child complains he or she was treated unfairly or did poorly on a test. Repeated complaints about the same problem, however, may warrant an early conversation with the teacher, especially in the lower grades.
With older children, it is a good idea to talk to the child first about his or her complaints and how serious they really are.
At any age, you need to contact your children’s teachers if you feel that the children are struggling with a school problem that they will not be able to resolve by themselves. It is not always essential to discuss smaller problems in person with the teacher. A phone call or e-mail may easily resolve them. If you attended the information evening with teachers at the beginning of the school year, you know how they want to be contacted.
For serious problems, a face-to-face meeting is essential. For older children with several teachers, it may be a good idea to include all of the child’s teachers as well as the school counselor unless the problem is only with one subject or teacher.