13 August 2012, under
Fatherhood; More Fatherhood articles...
We often tend to take school for granted if our children are happy there, and the school is happy with our children’s behaviour and progress. But when things go wrong, it can be really distressing for you and even more so for your child. A good relationship with your child’s teacher is the key to preventing problems and to solving problems if they do arise.
Make friends with your child’s teacher before problems occur: I don’t mean become best buddies but research shows that the key to a child’s success in school is to develop a partnership with their teacher. This can be easier said than done – you may only drop or pick up your child from school occasionally and the opportunities to bump into your child’s teacher may be limited.
Make the effort though; take the time to meet the teacher at the beginning of the school year and if you don’t think you will be able to see them face to face very often, get their email address or ask them what time of day or what day of the week it would be best for you to phone the school to get hold of them.
Warn about potential problems: If you have noticed your child has had particular difficulties with certain subjects or certain concepts, let the teacher know. If there have been disagreements between your child and another child in the class in the past, warn the teacher about this and tell them about anything you have found that has reduced the disagreements. If there are stressful times coming up in your son or daughter’s life, tell the teacher and discuss ideas about how to support your child at this time.
Take the time to say thank you: Praise the teacher when you hear they have done something above and beyond the call of duty. When your daughter / son seems to be doing well, tell the teacher you have noticed and that you are grateful that s/he has managed to help them achieve. Look for things to praise the teacher for: it will make a difference to your relationship with them and research shows it also affects the way the teacher behaves towards your child.
When you are talking with the teacher, let them know that you appreciate their position: tell them you don’t know how they manage all those children at once. Say that you really appreciate how disruptive it must be for the teacher and the rest of the class to have one child needing /demanding more attention, misbehaving etc...
Get involved in school affairs if you have the time at all: If the school offers classes, coffee mornings, bring and buy sales to the parents, go along if you are at all able. If you have particular skills, make use of them for the school.
Bring concerns to the teacher as soon as you notice them: tell the teacher what you have noticed and ask them what they have seen. Get a plan for how to deal with the difficulty together. Ask the teacher if there is anything they think you can do at home to support what they are doing at school.
If you are bringing a concern to a teacher you may well be feeling anxious. This anxiety might look to the teacher as though you don’t trust them to do their job. If you are feeling anxious, tell the teacher. Say something like “I’m sorry, I’m really upset about this so I’m finding it hard to talk about it. I’m sure you have had experience of these problems before. Do you have any ideas of what we can do?”
Always try to work a problem out with the teacher first – this is most likely to lead to a successful solution for your child. Only involve the head if you have really reached an impasse with your child’s teacher.
Ann Pendergrast is the facilitator for the Incredible Years Parenting Programme with Positive Behaviour Ireland.
Back to top ^