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When Your Child Dislikes His Teacher

Your child may have a bad day in which he decides he (temporarily) doesn’t like his teacher, but what should you do if your child consistently complains of not liking his teacher?  How should you respond and handle the situation, especially if it becomes a problem that affects behavior and grades?

When your child has sustained dislike for his teacher, you need to assess your child’s situation.  Start by visiting with your child.  What does the teacher do or not do that causes your child not to like his teacher?  How reasonable are your child’s expectations of his teacher?  Is the teacher’s alleged behavior creating a safety risk for your child or others?  Is the teacher’s alleged behavior serious enough to warrant notifying school administration and/or other parents of children in that classroom?  Is the teacher’s alleged behavior minor enough that merely visiting with your child and/or his teacher may create a more harmonious relationship between the two of them?  If harmony cannot be restored between your child and his current teacher, what other options exist?  Can your child transfer to a different teacher in the same school?  Can your child transfer to a different school?  Can your child be homeschooled?  What are the consequences if any of these changes occur?  What does your child see as the best possible realistic outcome?

Your child and his teacher may simply be dealing with a personality conflict, a mismatch of personality styles.  Through your open, honest communication with your child and his teacher, and a little understanding and compromise from both your child and his teacher, this difficulty can potentially be resolved.

Your child may be expecting too much from his teacher; after all, his teacher has a whole classroom of students needing her attention.  By helping your child establish more reasonable expectations of his teacher, this difficulty can potentially be resolved.

Your child’s teacher may be (allegedly) behaving disadvantageously (i.e., frequently ill tempered, negatively oriented, etc.).  In this circumstance, you can gently visit with the teacher, share your child’s perceptions with her, and ask her for her thoughts on the matter.  Can her behavior be satisfactorily explained?  If not, provide feedback to the teacher . . . be kind, but be specific.  Let her know what specific behaviors cause you concern.  Validate that what she’s intending to communicate and how her communication is being interpreted by her students may not be the same . . . her intentions may be positive rather than negative.  Provide her specifics about the environment you would like to see in your child’s classroom.  Ask her if she is willing to focus on increasing positivity in her classroom.  If this gentle feedback does not generate the outcome you seek, you need to speak with school administration.  If you feel that you need to reinforce your case for school administration, you may collaborate with other parents who share your concerns about this teacher.   As a parent, improvement of the classroom environment needs to be your focus . . . let school administration decide how to enact that improvement (i.e., through dismissing one teacher and hiring a replacement or through coaching and counseling the existing teacher).

Your child’s teacher may be (allegedly) behaving in a manner that exposes your child and/or others to safety risk(s).  Safety risks include physical harm from classroom corporal punishment, emotional harm from classroom verbal/emotional abuse, etc.  In this circumstance, you should immediately notify school administration and the parents of other children who are exposed to the risk(s).   As a parent, improvement of the classroom environment (i.e., mitigating the risk exposure) needs to be your focus . . . let school administration decide how to enact that improvement unless the teacher herself is alleged to be the source of that risk, such as in the case in which your child tells you that his teacher touched him egregiously inappropriately.  In this latter circumstance, you must immediately speak with school administration and the parents of other children who interact with this teacher, and you must specifically seek to have this teacher’s access to your child (and others) be denied.

If your child’s negative classroom experience is serious enough, or if it is moderate but persistent despite your intervention, then it may be time to consider researching and evaluating your options, which may include transferring your child to a different teacher in the same school, transferring your child to a different school, or homeschooling your child.

Whatever the outcome, it is important to have your child’s buy-in.  If your child is dissatisfied with the outcome and remains unhappy in his classroom, he will not perform to his fullest ability.  This can set in motion an unfortunate series of events that leads to poor grades, lost educational and life opportunities, and a host of other negative consequences.  However, by following the steps above, you can potentially avoid these negative consequences and create a harmonious classroom environment that enhances learning opportunities for your child, and potentially for his classmates and students who will come after them as well.

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