When to Talk to Your Child's Teacher

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Updated on Mar 6, 2009

Maybe your child just exploded again about homework.  Maybe there’s been a fight on the playground.  Or maybe you just have a nagging question: is my kid doing all right?   If so, you’re not alone. Sooner or later, just about every parent thinks: it’s time to talk to the teacher.

But of course, this can be easier said than done.  Even if you’re an experienced, active school parent, you probably worry almost as much as your kids do: what will the teacher think?  What if I say the wrong thing?  

While every situation is different, you can be sure of this: no teacher wants any child to be miserable.  If you have information about your child that can help with school success, you need to share it!  Here are three topics that teachers almost always want to hear about:

Changes in the Home.  They may appear to shrug it off, but children are deeply affected by changes in the family, whether that means moving homes, separation, serious illness, or death.   These experiences happen to all human beings, and teachers can help…but only if they know.   You are doing right by your child when you pick up the phone, write a note, or send an email.

Safety.  Teachers understand that every child needs to feel safe.  Unfortunately, bullying can still occur in playground corners, or in sneaky, mean remarks.   Whether attacks are physical or emotional, they can be equally devastating to your child.   If they happen, don’t hesitate: it’s time to talk to your teacher.

Negative Feelings about School.   Sooner or later, just about every kid says, “I feel like staying home today.”  A bad day happens to everyone, and in fact, you don’t need to call every time.  But there is a problem if it’s happening daily, especially if it’s connected to unusual withdrawal, poor work habits, mysterious illness, or temper.  Don’t be surprised if your teacher isn’t as aware as you are; kids may often seem different in school.  You don’t need to wait for a call; in fact, you help everyone when you go ahead and pick up the phone.

When you reach out, remember: you and the teacher are partners.  You’re working together to help your child.   Avoid defensiveness, and stay constructive.  Be patient as well: problems may take some time to clear up.   Above all, though, do stay in touch: for teachers, there are few gifts as precious as an honest, collaborative parent.  

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