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Solving The Issue: How To Work Productively With Your Child's Teacher
It can be difficult to know what to do when your child comes home upset about an issue at school. It brings every protective bone in your body to the fore. What should your next step be?
All parents want their children's years at school to be full of great educational value, laughter and fun but what happens when an issue starts to affect all of the above?

As a mother and a teacher I believe the most important thing to remember is that your children are always watching you. They watch the way we react to every situation in our lives and they copy us. We are their role models. In this case they are watching how we react to conflict and what steps we are going to take to solve it.

It puts a different perspective on how we react when you think of it like that doesn't it?

Here are 10 practical steps you can take in this situation:

1. Listen.

Sometimes our children do not actually need us to do anything, they just need us to listen, to believe, to comfort, to reassure them that they are worthwhile, loved and to give them advice on what to do next.

We need to listen carefully in order to get the facts straight. Ask open-ended questions (why, how) and be careful not to let our emotions lead the way. I have learnt over the years that there are three sides to every story; theirs, ours and the objective truth in the middle!

Say what you have heard back to your child to make sure you have got the message correct.

2. Brainstorm solutions with your child.

If more action is needed talk to your child about what they would like to see happen. Make a list and decide on what the next step will be.

3. Connect with the classroom:

Email or pop in and talk to your child’s teacher. Almost all teachers are keen to help and may either be unaware of the situation or have seen it from a different point of view.

Teachers believe the relationship between school and home is their most valuable asset so they should be keen to know what is happening for your child.

4. Make an appointment:

Teachers are super busy, so if you know this is really affecting your child and is not going to be fixed in a ten minute conversation, email the teacher or ring the school to make an appointment.

5. Meeting the Teacher:

Speak for yourself and your child; tell how the problem affects your child, what you have done to support them and what help you need from the school to address the problem.

6. Addressing the Issue:

Speak clearly; try not to wander off topic. Make notes to make sure you get everything said that you want to. Be respectful, stay calm and allow each person to express opinions without interruptions. Ask questions to ensure your points are being understood. Be respectful and avoid personal criticism (Use "I" statements e.g. "I didn't know my daughter didn't know her basic facts until the report card came home" StayOnTrack specialises in helping parents and children in this area, see www.stayontrack.co.nz)

7. Make a plan:

If the issue being addressed requires it, make a plan to address the behaviour or issue.

  • Look for solutions: remember this is upsetting your child so finding a way to solve the issue is most important here. Be open to suggestions.
  • How is it going to be measured? How will we know the plan is working?
  • Make a time to review it- what has worked? What needs to be changed?
  • Remember to stick to the facts-this keeps everything on track.

    8. Send a follow up email summarising what was decided in the meeting:

    This can help clarify that everyone is on the same page as to what happened in the meeting and what the next steps are.

    9. Say Thank-you!

    Most issues are easily solved, especially once the teacher is positively on-board. I have been to my children's school and after a 5 minute discussion with the teacher; my daughter has been all smiles and ready to tackle the day.

    Remember to thank your teacher for making the extra effort and for being supportive of you and your child. Teachers do so much every day that no-one sees. Being thanked leaves a lovely sense of appreciation.

    10. Seal the issue: chat with your child:

    This can be as simple as "Everything ok now?" to having a wee discussion over what the next steps in the plan are. Make sure your child knows what is happening, so they are not left feeling out on a limb. Make sure they know they are loved and thy have your full support.

    And remember: our children are always watching and modelling their behaviour on what we do.

  • StayOnTrack Limited 2014