Our counsellor newsletter from Linda Campbell, School Counsellor, School District 57
January 2013 Oh, oh! The Teacher Wants Me to Call
Tips and Tools for:
Working with your Child’s Teacher
For Kids and Teens:
What to do when you don’t like school
Getting along with teachers
When Your Child Has Problems at School: Tips for Parents
Have you gotten “the call” from your child’s school? The author of this article, talks frankly about how she and her husband dealt with it when their son had trouble at school.
In January of our son’s third grade year, we got the phone call from his teacher.
It’s not about you. It’s about your child, and what is best for him. As much as you can, put personal feelings aside and focus on your child.
After I calmed down, we sat and talked about what we were going to do about our child’s school problem. We also knew we needed to plan out how we were going to present ourselves at the meeting with his teachers. James and I decided that we wanted to be in partnership with the school as much as possible and focus on what was best for our son.
Tip #1: It’s not about you. It’s about your child, and what is best for him. As much as you can, put personal feelings aside and focus on your child.
We went to the meeting and presented ourselves as wanting to work with the school instead of against the school. We weren’t blaming the school; we were trying to be realistic about our son—both his behavior and his needs. And even though at first I was angry at the school for not noticing our son’s issues sooner, I was grateful to his third grade teacher for noticing what was going on. Up until third grade, our son had been able to use charm to get by in school. But charming wasn’t going to make it in the third grade, where they introduce more challenging content and a lot of new learning. Fortunately, his teacher saw through that act and realized it was a bit of a cover for some of his learning struggles.
Tip #2: Generally speaking, blaming the school or your child’s teacher won’t do any good. As much as is possible, work with school administrators and teachers. Partner with them instead of making an adversary out of them.
In my opinion, the only way to create success is to partner with the school. If you’re really struggling with your child’s teacher, find somebody else who you can create that relationship with. Pinpoint someone in the school who you can work with—it could be a guidance counselor, school social worker, a coach, or even the principal. This person will be able to advocate for your child more effectively than you can in some instances, and might also be able to shoot you an email when they notice something or feel like your child needs some extra help.
Tip #3: Communicate regularly with the school. At home, sit with your child if possible and help him through his homework assignments.
I think one of the key things our son realized was that his teacher and his parents were going to hold him responsible for his own work. He couldn’t get out of it, because everyone had joined together to make sure he succeeded and got through the year. We also attended an evaluation meeting for him where testing was recommended. He had some tests done and it was discovered that he had a mild learning disability. As a result, the teachers arranged for some accommodations so he could do certain things differently. So again, the school was taking some responsibility to help him, but even more importantly, our son was gradually taking responsibility for his learning.
Tip #4: Your child is responsible for his own work; it’s vital that he knows that he’s being held accountable by you and his teachers. If your child has an issue with the work he’s doing, and you believe he is sincerely struggling with the work, talk to the teacher.
For the most part, we found our son’s teachers to be dedicated and receptive, but through the years, he did have some experiences with teachers he wasn’t particularly crazy about. We thought that was an important life lesson for our son: he wasn’t going to like everyone and not everyone was going to treat him as fairly as everybody should be treated. I think dealing with these teachers helped prepare him for the real world, where he’d have to work with folks who might not be as understanding of his needs as others. We made sure to never criticize his teachers when our son was complaining about one he didn’t get along with.
Tip #5: When your child complains about school, don’t join with him in criticizing his teacher. By being in that teacher’s classroom, your child is learning an important lesson.
Teachers also want to feel support from parents for what happens in the classroom. I’ve seen parents immediately take their child’s side and not take the time to get the full picture from the school staff or teachers. I believe it’s important to see the full picture. You may not like it when you get it, but at least you’ve taken the time to get the other side of the story.
James used to say, “Sometimes it’s easier to fight with the school than fight with your kid.” After all, you can walk away from the school and go home. It’s a lot harder to hold your child accountable and sit and do the work with him—especially if he is defiant or has other behavioral issues. But in the long run, holding him responsible is the best thing for his future.
Tip #6: Recognize that your child’s teacher has a difficult job. Get the full picture when there is a situation at school—don’t simply rely on your child’s retelling of the story, because he will only see things from his point of view.
It’s often really intimidating to get that initial call from your child’s school. Sometimes it brings up feelings you had when you were a kid. Maybe you acted out a bit or had some struggles with learning yourself; perhaps you didn’t feel smart enough or good enough. Often, a parent’s first response, given their own experience, is to fight the system. by Janet Lehman, MSW
I’m here. ?And you’re there.
And that’s okay.
But maybe there will be a gentle wind
that pulls us together.
And then I’ll be here and you’ll be here, too.
Online Resources for Kids and Teens
Everyone has a bad day at school once in a while, but some kids really don’t like school. Read this article for kids to find out more.
Kids who get along with their teachers not only learn more, but they’re more comfortable asking questions and getting extra help. Read this article to find out how to build good relationships with your teachers.
Community Resources for Parents and Kids…
Infant Massage (IAIM) Aboriginal Infant and Family Development Program A wonderful way for Mom and/or Dad to create a loving bond with their baby. Benefits of infant massage include bonding, helping with disrupted sleep and easing colic. Enjoy an afternoon of guided infant massage, followed by discussion and snack. FREE to all parents and babies (0-6 months) in Prince George and area. Program is led by certified infant massage facilitators. Presented by the Aboriginal Infant and Family Development Program (138 George St.) 250-564-5941
Prince George and District Elizabeth Fry Society Play is an important part of growing up! Drop-in Monday -Thursday for a play time for families with children ages newborn to 5 years.
Family Education Outreach Program
Northern Health An in-home, family support, parent education outreach program for parents with children 0-16 years. Offers parenting, life, and home management skills. Outreach workers work closely with the family to achieve outcome oriented family goals. No cost. Referral required from MCFD Outreach workers work with the family on a weekly basis, for up to 6 months to achieve family goals. Available in Prince George and surrounding areas. Contact 250-649-4867
Native Healing Centre Child/Youth Counselling Services Monday to Friday 8:30am – 4:30pm A culturally based counselling service for children and teens dealing with abuse, emotional problems, grief and loss, relationship problems and more. Prince George Native Friendship Centre, 250-564-4324.