Monday, October 17, 2011

Tip 44 - School pains? No gains!

How is school going for your child now the new school year is well underway? If you are concerned about your child's primary teacher (or any other teacher) this is the time to speak with the school principal to discuss your concerns. This is one area as a parent you do not want to have a “wait and see attidude.” There is no more important relationship your child will have than his classroom teacher. And according to educational journalist Peg Tyre who has just published a new book entitled The Good School: How Smart Parents Get Their Kids the Education They Deserve, all teachers are not good teachers and certainly not necessarily the best match for your child.  Tyre contends that the teacher-student relationship is one of the  most significant your child will have and can affect your child's self-concept for years to come. 

Teachers have a very hard job and I respect them for their dedication and tenacity, especially in this rough economic environment when educational programs are being cut drastically and class size is increasing. But teachers are human, and may have a child or two in their classroom they just have trouble warming up to or understanding. And, with the responsibility teachers now have to meet high stakes test requirements, they may feel the pressure to push their students more and be harder on students they feel are not achieving adequately. Some parents prefer demanding teachers, so ultimately the choice is yours. But if you feel uncomfortable about the relationship between your teacher and your child, speak up. The principal is a good person to speak with about your concerns. And, don't be afraid to consider moving your child to another school if you continue to feel the present school environment is not the best for your child. You know your child better than anyone else, so if your child seems depressed or anxious about school, that may be a sign to start exploring the option of changing to another teacher in the same school, or changing the school if necessary. All children would prefer to stay home from school, so just because your child complains on Monday morning is not necessarily a reason for concern. But signs of depression, anxiety, or declining grades should be viewed as a warning sign and a time to talk to your child, the teacher, or principal about issues that may be a concern.

Children under ten years of age do not yet have the ability to evaluate themselves very well. They rely heavily on the opinions of adults to form their own concept of their strengths and weaknesses. So a child is not likely to let you know if a teacher does not foster a feeling of self-worth. Rather, you may hear things like, "I am in the 'dumb' reading group."  Peg Tyre has stated, "you want to look at the relationship between teacher and student. What you want [for your child] is teachers who have a lot of respect for kids, who seem to know their strengths and weaknesses." 

When it comes to choosing a school for your child, there are many variables to consider:  from class size to curriculum; attitudes towards extracurricular activities and availability of art, music or athletics. It is not a good idea to choose a school because a friend recommends it, because your child may not have the same needs or fit that school well. And, it is also a good idea not to take a school’s description of their strengths for granted; when possible observe teachers teaching and watch carefully how the students respond to the classroom environment.

Tip 44 School is the most important choice you make for your child's future achievement so choose carefully and do not be afraid to change teachers or schools if your child does not seem to be thriving. School Pains? No academic gains!

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