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A Lesson In Parenting: Working With Your Child’s Teacher To Ensure Cool Schooling Through Positive Partnership

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

With August quickly creeping upon us, and September at it’s heels, most moms and dad’s are gearing up for a little R & R as the kids head back to school.

A new year brings with it new hopes, dreams, expectations, and often scholastic concerns and problems. According to educational authorities, it’s just as important for parents to plan for the upcoming academic year, as it is for their kids.

While your kids are busy thinking about the timeliest trends, and potential (love) prospects, you should be helping them focus on their academics. In fact, you may even want to consider getting acquainted with the conjectural calendar, scholastic program and array to teachers/instructors that will be a major part of your son/daughter’s upcoming academic experience (and you may want to do so before problems arise).

Authorities advise paying a visit to your child’s school around week two into the academic year. By this time both faculty and students have somewhat settled in and most teachers won’t be harried or pressured for time early on in the semester. Experts recommend paying a visit at the end of the school day (which is also a good excuse for picking up your child, checking up on him/her, and “monitoring” his/her friends, or group he/she is gravitating towards). Keep the conversation, short, sweet and simple. You’re likely to be invited to an “official” parent-teacher meeting sometime in the near future for more thorough discussions, concerns, and observations. Also, experts recommend using this opportunity to find out, what times are best for future meetings and contact. And, don’t forget to make it known, if volunteering in the classroom or on trips is a possibility and an option.

Routine Visits:
Getting on friendly terms with your child’s teacher(s) is one of the best gifts you can give your child and your family. According to school officials, you should make it a habit to visit your child’s teacher frequently. This, they note, should be in addition to the regularly scheduled yearly “organized” and “structured” school meetings. These events are primarily brief interactions and updates and often don’t allocate time to address and discuss more serious issues. Consider making additional contacts with your child’s teacher when:

1. He/She receives accolades and/or acknowledgement for a job well done. Give the same courtesy to the instructor and thank him/her for encouraging your child and for pointing out his/her accomplishment. Don’t forget to emphasize how happy you are that your child was rewarded for his/her hard work.

2. He/She is chastised or punished. If your child complains of being reprimanded unjustly, don’t hesitate to contact the school and teacher to clarify the circumstances surrounding the situation in question. And remember; don’t always take your child’s side, even if they are only partially at fault. It’s imperative you teach them the importance of “playing by the rules”, and questioning in a diplomatic manner that won’t compromise their standing.

3. Your child is being “victimized”. If your child feels that other kids, teachers and faculty members are constantly and unjustifiable “picking on” him/or her, or turning a blind eye to “peer abuse”, you need to put a stop to it, or at least make sure the teacher(s) and faculty are aware of your child’s feelings, claims, and accusations.

4. Family disruptions. A family crisis such as constant fighting, separation, divorce, illness, death (in the family, even of a pet) may upset your child’s mental equilibrium and “state of normalcy”. It’s imperative that you notify the teacher and the school to explain the possible shift in mood or grades or both, and to ask for additional assistance, understanding, and patience, in helping him/her cope.

Concerns about your child and his/her academic performance should be a priority for parents. Authorities advise not waiting until both you and your child face problems and frustration, but rather staying involved and dealing with potential issues a little at a time. They also note, that instead of “over-reacting” and making an issue of a “non-issue”, play the waiting game, at least for the first two months of the school year…unless major situations arise. Otherwise, give your child, the school and the teachers a chance to get acquainted and to get comfortable with a new “routine”. Two to three months into the year, both will have a better concept of what needs to be discussed and addressed. Experts suggest requesting a half hour interview, requesting detailed information on the curriculum and on your child’s participation, as well as information and advise on any areas that need attention and improvement.

Interview Etiquette:
Once you’ve identified a “problem”, you are then faced with the challenge of finding a solution, either alone (among the family), or in conjunction with the school. Professionals point out the need to get acquainted even if your child is an exemplary student. This demonstrates to your child and his/her teachers that you care, are concerned, and are involved in your child’s life and future.

Generally, your child’s teacher will have a portfolio of your child’s work and progress. He/she may also have some of your child’s latest work on display for you to see, inquire about or discuss. You may want to note how your child’s work “seems” in comparison to his/her peers and discuss that with your child’s teacher. If work by other students is NOT displayed, experts recommend requesting to see some (if possible).

Another good rule of thumb is discussing with your child areas of interest and concern. Learn about his or her favorite areas or topics, as well as those he or she is bored or having “trouble” with. Also discuss with your child specific teachers, how he or she feels about them and why, and also other likes and dislikes that you can address. Kids may also have “issues” with other classmates or peers. Don’t forget to bring that to the teacher or school’s attention. Bring a prepared list of topics and questions and a copy of your child’s progress report and/or report card if you have to.

Give the teacher the courtesy of initiating and initially steering the conversation and discussion. Listen carefully, and if there is something you don’t agree with or understand, do not hesitate to ask him/her to clarify. If at the end of your discussion, you still have questions, bring them to the teacher’s attention. Experts recommend a more detailed meeting if you feel you need more time than allotted. Schedule to meet either before or after class, and inquire about even including your child in a discussion concerning him/her if you feel it will be beneficial, informative and helpful to his/her performance.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > A Lesson In Parenting: Working With Your Child’s Teacher To Ensure Cool Schooling Through Positive Partnership

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