Let’s face it, there’s always room for improvement in any classroom, but when it’s your
child in that classroom, you want things fixed NOW
. We’ve all been there. But don’t
go ballistic on the teacher. I know your mama bear instinct is to go straight to the teacher tell her what she’s doing wrong, but you’ll be alienating her and possibly ruining your kid’s experience in the classroom.
When your child comes home and tells you there was a problem in the class, listen intently, but don’t feed into his emotions. A friend of mine would pick up her 8-year old son after school and ask him, “So what did Miss “Meanie Face” do to you today?” Trying to please his mother’s voracious appetite for more stories about this teacher led her son to become so nosy about other students’ business that he fell behind on classwork because he was so focused on what Miss Meanie Face was doing and saying!
By listening to your child’s explanations you’ll hear how he felt about the situation. There is a big difference between how your child perceives a situation and what actually happened. Acknowledge his feelings and then ask objective questions. Try not to blame the teacher or other students – I know this is difficult to do when your child’s feelings have been hurt. Get the facts. Get the timeline. Get the names of the people involved. After you assess the situation, more often than not, you’ll find that there was no malicious intent – someone was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the future, don’t encourage your child to feed into this by asking more questions pointed at the target. Simply ask, “What interesting things happened at school today?”
But if the situation continues, consider one of the following solutions.
Find a Solution
Never go to the teacher to lay out the problem without having a viable, non-blaming solution on hand. That’s a sure-fire way to become the buzz in the Teacher’s Lounge! Being known as a Problem Parent will hurt both you and your child. Teachers are human, and remember, they’re underpaid, underappreciated, and overworked. So think about a solution to the problem. If students are distracting your son during class, suggest a seating rearrangement. If the students are confused about assignments, suggest using online programs like Infinite Campus or if your district can’t afford that, suggest the teacher use Google Calendar (free). Free is good! By offering solutions, the teacher will be more likely to address the issue and appreciate your recommendation.
Get a Tutor
When teachers have between 20-40 students per class, it may simply be impossible for your child to get the extra attention he needs from the teacher. Even with volunteers aiding in the class, your child might need more help than they can give. Rather than stressing out because the school isn’t doing enough, hire a tutor to fill in the gaps. Ask your tutor to help with daily instruction and ensure that he is doing the work correctly. Then, they can review concepts taught at the start of the year to make sure that he didn’t miss any important building blocks – the foundation for future learning. Funds tight? Get a high school or college student to do it for community service credit!
Sometimes, because government and religious organizations strip the interesting facts out of textbooks, your child’s history, literature, and even science courses can become kind of, well, dry. So supplement what your child is learning in the classroom with historically accurate movies and special museum exhibits. There are a ton of excellent movies that can make history come alive. Some of my children’s history favorites were “North and South“, “Centennial“, and “Shogun“. Have movie nights with other classmates/families and trust me, their interest in history will change! You can also center family vacations around visiting historical sites or museums.
One summer, we went on a dinosaur tour of the 4-Corners in an RV with another family. While studying California history, we panned for gold in the Gold Rush hills of California. After writing papers on the Mayans, we travelled to Chichen Itza (Mexico) to explore ancient civilizations. And we even took a literary tour through England visiting homes of Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Bronte Sisters, and Charles Dickens. That certainly made reading English literature more engaging – my daughters quickly became voracious readers – and my youngest daughter even won a university reading contest while she was in high school!
So if something is amiss in your child’s class, try to find a solution and be part of the process of fixing it.