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October 25, 2014

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Education and Parenting:

My kid’s not getting along with her teacher. What can I do?

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Cameron Diaz appears in a scene from the 2011 film “Bad Teacher.”

Nearly three weeks into the school year, a sad reality may be setting in for some parents of students in Las Vegas schools.

Their kids aren’t getting along with their teachers.

But it’s not too late to iron out problems and get the year back on track. What can a parent do to improve the relationship? Here’s a collection of advice from experts at Parenting magazine, the Child Development Institute and schoolfamily.com.

    • Dig for the facts

      Experts say parents should press their children for details. If a student says a teacher is being mean, for instance, it’s important to ask exactly what that means. Try to take a casual approach to the questioning or even do role-playing in order to keep the student from feeling uncomfortable and clamming up.

      If the answer is the teacher is pressing the student to complete her assignments, that’s much different than if the teacher is being unresponsive, teasing students about sensitive issues or otherwise being hostile. The parent’s response may be to tell the child – in polite terms, of course – to suck it up.

    • Think teamwork

      If there is a problem, it’s wise to approach the teacher with a collaborative attitude. Experts say a great way to open the conversation is by asking, “What can I do?” This will help keep the teacher from going on the defensive and pave the way for a conversation about how to make the classroom a better place for the student – which is the goal. Providing details about the child can be helpful. A teacher might not know that a student is hard of hearing, for instance, and can make an immediate improvement by moving the child to the front row of seats.

    • Keep playing reporter

      Ask the teacher for examples of the student’s work, and schedule follow-up conversations to keep track of progress. But don’t overdo it. Teachers are busy, and parents who constantly inquire about their kids risk being dismissed as overbearing.

    • Go through channels

      If the teacher doesn’t respond, go to the principal. If that doesn’t work, request a change of classroom. But that’s a last resort, experts say, because schools are often reluctant to reassign students to different teachers, and drawing a line in the sand can make tense relationships even worse. But whatever the approach, experts advise remaining positive and collaborative at every step while also being firm. The message: Parents are willing to work toward a solution, but they’re not going to go away.

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