Managing the Parent-Teacher Relationship

by Dr. Michele Borba

Going back to school can be challenging in many ways.  From staying organized to getting back on schedule, there are many obstacles to overcome.  One of the most touchy subjects can be your child’s relationship with his or her teacher.  What do you do when your child does not get along with the teacher?  Or vice versa?  

Here are some tips to help you gauge your child’s complaints about his teacher and manage the parent-teacher relationship.

If your child says he is being mistreated by a teacher:

Don’t jump to conclusions and assume it’s the teacher’s problem. Instead, stay calm and gather facts. Play Columbo and investigate your kid’s accusations to see if they are legit. Put on your detective hat and step back from the protective parent role. Just try, try, try to be objective.

Gather specific facts. Use the 5 Ws to find out the specifics from your child:

  1. What happened exactly? (Would the teacher say the same thing?)
  2. Where did it happen (classroom, playground, bus)?
  3. Who was involved (teacher, substitute, aide, other kids, just you)?
  4. When (time, exact class, subject or period) did the incident(s) happen? Is this the first time this has happened? If not, how many times?
  5. Why? (What was your kid’s role in this?)

How credible is your kid? Be honest. How high is the “believable quotient”? Is your child a complainer, a blamer or a multiple offender? If so, be cautious.

What do his friends say? Eavesdrop! Do other parents say the same thing or have the same problem?Bottom line: How you respond depends on the severity and frequency of the problem. Is this a recurring situation that is worth pursuing because it could hinder your child’s education or character?

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