Communicating problems to school
By Fiona Baker |
Communicating problems to school

Whether it be learning difficulties, behavioural issues, friend problems or maybe you just need some extra information, most parents at some stage need to have an 'extraordinary' meeting with their child's teacher, outside the structured parent-teacher interviews.

Sometimes the school principal or teacher arranges the meeting, at other times, parents may request a special meeting to discuss potential problems at school or at home.

NSW Federation of Parents & Teachers Associations' publicity officer Sharryn Brownlee says before parents go charging up to tackle their child's teacher about problems or issues, they need to remember one important thing: "Parents need to value and respect the fact that the school is the teachers' workplace - and the children's workplace,' she says. So parents can't expect to be able to grab the teacher straight after the bell for a chat.

"If parents want to talk to the teacher they should do the respectful thing and make an appointment, as you would with anyone in a workplace."

"Teachers are generally very accessible and available to parents, and are keen to make sure their students are happy and getting the most out of their school day."

Teachers, too, will make times to see parents if they have any concerns with a student.

Sharryn says that schools have systems procedures in place to deal with issues. She adds that while principals are also available to help out with any issues, parents should, where possible, start with their class teacher.

She understands that some parents may feel daunted and intimidated about talking to a teacher or principal about a problem.

"Schools aren't like they were when many parents went to school. They are open and transparent and eager to do the best by the students," Sharryn says.

"By showing mutual respect, problems are usually resolved."

She does have this warning for parents, though.

"Listen to your child carefully, but don't engage too deeply with their friend issues and small tiffs," she says."Many of these change from day-to-day."

"As parents we need to be careful not to focus only on the negative stories we hear from our children because in all reality most children have a great day at school."

"At the same time if your child is unhappy and having ongoing problems, parents should be comfortable to take up that issue with the teacher or school."

Communicating learning difficulties and special needs with a school

If your child has a designated special need, take it up with the school well before the start of the new school year to ensure the best education options are provided.

The school principal will help you find the right schooling option for your child, taking into account your choice, your child's specific additional learning needs and proximity to local specialist services.

If you have concerns about your child's development or progress at school, it is important to discuss your concerns with relevant professionals such as, in the first instance, the school principal, teacher or school counsellor. Your family doctor may also be of assistance in this process.


This story was written by Fiona Baker for Kidspot, New Zealand's leading Back To School resource, from sources including Early Life Foundations, Australian Government Department of Education, The Federation of Parents and Citizens’ Associations of NSW , NSW Public Schools, Vic Department of Education and early Childhood Development, WA Department of Education, Tas Department of Education, Qld Department of Education, Training and the Arts, SA Department of Education and Children’s Services and ACT Education and Training and NT Department of Education and Training.


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