Faith WoodWhile your kids are at school, it may be a good idea to think about the important, even essential, relationship you and your child have with those people responsible for your child’s education: teachers.

As a parent, you want nothing but the best for your child. When it comes to academics, you know for a fact that your child is a genius. Your child is not only a genius, but he/she also learns in his/her own unique manner. This may include not paying attention in class (because he/she already knows everything and is bored), or not doing homework (because it is simply a waste of his/her valuable time since he/she already knows everything), or sometimes not even showing up for class (see above).

Therefore, it may come as somewhat of a shock to you as a parent when your child’s grades don’t reflect how you see your child, or when you get a note from the teacher expressing concerns over what’s going on with your child at school. You’ve asked your darling child and have been assured, again and again, that that teacher is an absolute ogre with no hope of redemption.

So, what do you do?

The answer is simple, although not always easy. Regular open and honest communication with your child’s teachers is definitely the best policy.

While not every teacher your child will have over the years is going to be wonderful (in fact, some may be perceived as downright awful), the best way you can help your child is by connecting with those teachers and treating them with respect. After all, they didn’t go into this career for fame and fortune. They’re trying to do their best for your child.

When there are problems in the classroom, the first thing to remember is to not go into a meeting with your child’s teacher in ‘attack’ mode. Righteous anger and finger pointing will not go very far in solving any problems. Rather, presenting a collaborative approach of ‘let’s work together’ is a strong first step on the path of resolution.

Ask questions. Come prepared with a list of items for discussion so you can clarify the issues and find out exactly what concerns the teacher has. It’s always better to get the facts rather than making assumptions.

Listen to what the teacher has to say, and don’t interrupt every 10 seconds with excuses and to explain away your child’s behaviour, or issues. You may not like what you hear, and you may not agree with everything the teacher has to say, but by listening you can at least begin to understand the teacher’s perspective and get a sense of what is happening.

Even if you feel frustrated, don’t get into personality conflicts, or start laying blame, or telling the teacher how to do the job. Focus on your child and his/her challenges. By working together, you can hopefully find potential resolutions.

Be open in letting the teacher know of any mitigating circumstances that may have a negative affect on your child’s behaviour (e.g. medical problems, a family crisis).

And even when you have come up with solutions, consider volunteering in your child’s class, or at  school. This might be just what you need to better understand not only your child and teacher, but your child’s educational experience as a whole.

While this article deals with the relationship with your child’s teacher, these recommendations apply equally well with your personal relationship with your child. Respect and open and honest communication will go a long way toward solving problems and resolving conflict.

Troy Media columnist Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications. 

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