Personality clashes are a part of life, and they are not always limited to peer relationships. When a child complains he doesn’t like his teacher, parents can take a positive approach.
Published: June 30, 2020
By: Denise Yearian
Increasing communication and working cooperatively to strengthen the home-school relationship can help. Here are 12 tips to consider:
- Discuss the dilemma. Talk it over with your child and find out exactly what is bothering her. Depending on her developmental level she may or may not be able to articulate her concerns. Validate her feelings but maintain a neutral stance so you don’t undermine the teacher’s authority.
- Objective encounters. There are several ways to get an objective view of the situation. One is to observe class in session. This will help you see the classroom environment, but it may not provide an accurate account of student-teacher interactions as your presence may disrupt normal routines. Becoming a regular school volunteer will allow you to get acquainted with school staff and give you a better perspective of what goes on during your child’s day. Also take advantage of regularly scheduled parent-teacher conferences as these provide great insight into your child’s academic experience.
- Point out the positives. Look for ways to present the teacher in a positive light. Even if you don’t know her on a personal level, share with your child how her goal is to make learning a positive experience.
- Transition with teaching style. If the complaint is about the teacher’s teaching style wait it out. Many kids grow accustomed to a particular teacher’s method of instruction and need a few weeks to adjust. In the meantime, send the teacher a note so she’s aware of the situation and ask what you can do at home to help.
- Sort out strictness. If your student suggests the teacher is too strict, ask for specifics. Obtain a list of classroom rules, discuss ones in question and encourage him to comply so he won’t have a reason to be reprimanded. Bear in mind that your child’s view of strictness may have more to do with the teacher’s personality or the inflection of her voice than with the rules. If so, explain that people have different methods of interacting and communicating and some are more attentive and caring than others.
- Picked-on perspective. If your child says she is being picked on, be responsive but realize her perspective may be limited by her development. Sift through and weigh out the facts. If, after careful observation, you decide to address the situation, request a conference with the teacher.
- Consider a conference. If a conference is needed, meet with the teacher first to see if she can help resolve the situation. Bring a notebook and write down her comments and suggestions, and share about your child’s personality, strengths and weaknesses. Most important approach this time in a non-confrontational way and seek to resolve the situation rather than resort to blame. Join together with mutual respect and understanding and work toward forging a good relationship.
- Facilitate a follow-up. After the conference share meeting highlights with your child, along with suggested steps to remedy the situation. In the days to follow maintain contact with the teacher until you see a steady improvement. Let her know you appreciate her help in working toward a solution.
- Address the administration. If several weeks after the first meeting you fail to see improvement, request a three-way conference with an administrator. Inform him/her of the measures you have taken and ask for suggestions.
- Chime in for change. If suggested measures fail to bring a resolution and you begin to see a stunt in social or academic development, it may be time to request a new class. This, however, should be the last resort.
- Watch your tongue! If for some reason you also dislike your child’s teacher, be careful what you say to your student. Remember he has to spend a great portion of her week in the classroom, and she may feel torn between the two authorities in his life. Also, openly expressing your dissatisfaction impedes conflict resolution.
- Look for the lesson. Don’t be too quick to rescue your child from every dilemma. Discern if and when to step in or sit it out. If you do intervene, work toward building bridges that will help your child succeed. In doing so you will teach him he can work through difficult situations and he’ll be better equipped to handle any future controversies in a likewise manner.
Denise Yearian is the former educator and editor of two parenting magazines and the mother of three children and six grandchildren.