Parenting | How to resolve issues with teachers

When issues with your child arise in schoolstudent-1647136_1280 it is important that you, as their parent, are notified. The teacher or principal may contact you to address the issue if they feel it warrants attention but in other cases it may be your child who has an issue with a teacher and comes to you.

When the latter occurs, you can be at a disadvantage as you are emotionally involved in the issue. How you communicate with the teacher or principal is an important factor in resolving issues fairly and promptly for all. Here are ’10 ways’ to support you to resolve your child’s issues with authority figures in school:

  1. When your child tells you of an incident in the school with their teacher, or any school figure, you must sit with your child and hear the full story. Understand the context in which it happened. Ask them to clarify when, and where, it happened and how they felt about it at the time. Talk with them about how they are feeling now.
  2. Only get involved if your child feels they need your support. Try writing a letter to the teacher and request a follow-up meeting. Let your child know that you are going to contact their teacher or principal. Ask them how they feel about this.
  3. While you can become involved, your child also needs to be able to talk to their teacher about what they are not happy or comfortable with in that teacher’s approach.
  4. If your child behaved very poorly stand up and acknowledge this. You are doing them no favours otherwise. Your child should always be treated fairly and with respect and should return this respect to their teacher.
  5. Hearing the other side is important as is getting the school figure to hear your child’s side of the story. If your child has been hurt by the school’s approach, they need to know that fact in order for any change to take place. Let the teacher or principal know that you want to understand the full story and you are prepared to work with them to achieve change.
  6. Ensure that you are not emotionally charged. Think about what you need to say and how you need to say it. Clear and direct communication is the key to assertive communication. Using ‘I’ statements are to be avoided (“I think, I know, I feel, I am etc.) as the tone of these can suggest you are blaming or condemning another person’s actions and conflict is the most likely outcome.
  7. In order to support our children to stand up for themselves and communicate assertively we need to strive to be role models for them. We need to champion them at all times. We need to stand tall beside them and support them. If we don’t support children to speak up and seek the right to be treated with respect they will not know they have this right as they mature into adults.
  8. If you have taken every step to positively engage with the teacher/principal and they are not interested in engaging with you then you need to engage with the board of management. Schools are there to provide a service to children and parents and at times they may need extra resources and support from their board to do this. The board need to be informed if issues cannot be resolved.
  9. Never hide abuse or intimidation in schools. Bring another parent with you if you feel your voice is not strong enough to talk with a teacher. Most teachers welcome parents coming to them with issues when they first happen before they escalate. Do not approach teachers in front of other parents or children. Give them the respect you are seeking for you and your child.
  10. During the course of the meeting, if you really feel that you cannot be supported, then leave. Go home and think about this again. Think about the language you have used and explore if you can change anything in your approach. Talk with a parent from the parent teacher council in confidence. Review the school policies and then try again.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212.

Join the One Family Parenting Group online here


Parenting | Getting ready for back to school

back-to-school-999248_1920As we fast approach the end of August, it is time to prepare both our children and ourselves for going back to school. The relaxed days and bright evenings of no homework are fewer. With only one full week to go for most, it is time to get things in place so the first week back, as well as the rest of the term, can run smoothly.

We offer ’10 ways’ to make a smooth transition from summertime to the new school year:

  1. Ask everyone, including yourself, what you need to do in the next week to be ready for the new school year. Just some general clearing and sorting can help you feel prepared for the next term, such as cleaning school bags, finding school things, sorting lunch boxes, coming up with ideas for lunch boxes, or tidying bedrooms.
  2. Talk about what you all enjoyed the most this summer and then talk about what there is to look forward to in autumn. It is easy to get a little down as summer comes to a close so talk to your children about positive happenings that await them in autumn such as birthdays, seeing more of their friends, taking part in hobbies or activities, or even just wearing nice, new school clothes.
  3. This weekend should be the last weekend of late nights to bed and relaxed routines. From Monday onwards it would be good to adopt an earlier bedtime; not necessarily the bedtime you have for school nights but close to it. Children need to get into the routine of settling down at night for bed. Enjoy some calm and relaxing family time like movie evenings or board games.
  4. You will be used to more relaxed mornings so getting children out the door in time on school mornings can cause a lot of stress. It is important to practice getting up and out early again. Set yourself some morning tasks next week like a trip to the library or park. If children get up early then they will be ready for bed earlier too.
  5. Talk with each other about what the week will be like once school is back on. Who will bring children to school and who will collect them? What will the homework plan be? Draw up a plan of afterschool activities. Plan treats every month and set clear goals and boundaries for each member of the family.
  6. Think about increasing your child’s independence by giving them more responsibilities next term. Think about what worked well last term and what didn’t. Parents need to be clear about what they can and should do for children. You cannot teach children to be responsible if you do everything for them.
  7. If you have a child starting school for the first time, take time to sit and talk with them about what to expect. Don’t overwhelm them with information as you can increase anxiety by over-talking these matters. Little and often may be best. Show them where the school is and get them to try on their uniforms if they have one. Help them to understand what their day will be like. Work with them around managing their clothes, toileting and feeding themselves. This will support them and help to build their confidence.
  8. Older children may worry that they will have forgotten everything they learned last year and could be worried about the work load coming up. Revise a little with them in a fun way. Support them to do some reading and fun learning activities. Help them to see that they haven’t forgotten and that they can brush up quickly on things they have learned by reading over old copies.
  9. For exam children talk with them about stress and recognising stress. Help them to develop coping skills from early on. Help them to learn good study techniques and be organised in their study plan. Start early, don’t leave it until the mock exams. On day one the teachers will be talking about exams so they need to be prepared.
  10. Take deep breaths and get ready for another fun filled year of learning and look forward to the Halloween break. You are a team, a family, so work together to achieve success and happiness this school year.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212.