How to Handle Teachers' Complaints About Your Children

Do you get complaints about your child from his teacher? As a result, do you panic? Or, do you blame the teacher? Your response will affect your child’s development. Read on for tips to handle this.

By Mary Clotilda

How to Handle Teachers' Complaints About Your Children

At some point or the other during your child’s schooling you are likely to receive a complaint regarding either her behaviour or her performance. Many parents tend to respond to teachers’ complaints by being argumentative or blaming the problem on the teacher’s professional skills or attitude. However, if a teacher sees a problem in your child, the best thing to do would be to support her in helping your child overcome the issue.

Importance of parent–teacher relationship

Interaction between parents and teachers is crucial to sorting out problems with children at all stages – from pre-school to teenage. Parental intervention will go a long way in helping children correct themselves and proceed to achieve their potential. The intervention will depend on the age of the child and the problem. Here are a few common issues that teachers face, and the ways in which you can deal with them, categorised according to the age of the child:

Behavioural issues

Conduct is often a problem area. Common problems relating to a child’s conduct in class are:

  • Talkativeness
  • Daydreaming
  • Non-attentiveness
  • Idling
  • Disrupting the class

All these behaviours affect not only the child, but the teacher’s work too; therefore, they affect the class as a whole.

Preschoolers and Primary schoolers: Though disruptive behaviour is rarely encountered in a preschooler or primary school student, inattentiveness and idling can be a problem even in the early years, and if not attended to promptly, will affect a child’s progress when he becomes a pre-teen or teenager. Talk to the teacher and find out exactly what the issue is. Ask her how you can help make things better. At this stage, the problem is likely to be quickly sorted out.

Preteens: Don’t ignore a complaint. Meet the teacher and understand the issue. Talk to your child in a friendly way, and find out what prompts the problematic behaviour. Once you identify the cause, help her to tackle the issue.

Teens: This is a tricky phase. When parents get involved and are seen to support the teacher, students are more inclined to cooperate with the teacher. So don’t hesitate to show that you back up the teacher, while also trying to understand why the child is behaving badly.

Habitually coming late

Being late to class often affects not only the child’s academic progress but overall class discipline. Quick intervention is required to prevent lasting damage.

Preschoolers and Primary schoolers: You yourself could be the cause of your young child reaching school late. Are you late with serving breakfast or packing his lunch? If so, organise yourself better. If your child takes private transport to school, the problem could lie with the driver of the vehicle. So see how this can best be sorted out.

Preteens: If your child goes to school on her own, see where the problem lies. If she starts early enough to reach school on time but doesn’t make it, she could be delayed because she’s waiting for friends to join her on the way. Or, is she dawdling? Identify the hurdle and take steps to remove it.

Teens: Late nights, a boring ‘Morning Assembly’ or simply the thrill of flouting authority and reaching school late could be behind the ‘habitual latecomer’ problem at this stage. Set an example for your child. Let him see that you are punctual, however tedious your duties may be. Organise your day, keep regular hours, and insist on a reasonable bedtime for your teenager.

Poor academic performance

‘Low marks again!’ is among the most common complaints that parents hear from their child’s teacher. The problem has to be dealt with using the utmost diligence and care, as it can harm the child on many levels.

Preschoolers: The complaint is usually not heard at this stage. But, if that’s what a teacher has to say about your child, you should take quick action. Get daily updates from the teacher about your child’s performance at school. Talk to her about the child’s progress, and see how, together, you can help the child do better.

Primary schoolers: A complaint of poor marks at this stage demands immediate attention – if you ignore it, your child will find it very difficult to cope with studies later. Consult your child’s teacher, and draw up a timetable for disciplined daily study. Sit with your child while he studies, so that you understand what is difficult for him, and help him with those areas.

Preteens: Talking to the child is the best way of tackling the problem at this stage. Don’t start by disciplining your child. Instead, try figuring out why her grades are dropping. The sooner you identify the problem, the easier it will be to solve.

Teens: Each child is unique – setting realistic expectations will help. If you find that your child is working hard but not getting better results, disciplining him might have an adverse impact. Talk to him first, to try and find out what the problem could be. Follow this up with a meeting with the teacher. Don’t compare him with any other child. Sensitive handling will work wonders here. You might need to hire an after-school tutor.

“Homework not done!”

When a child fails to do his homework, he is invariably pulled up, and this could result in discouragement, de-motivation and stress.

Preschoolers: At this age, the child cannot be solely responsible for the problem. Parents definitely need to help young children with their homework. So, if you get regular complaints that your little one isn’t doing his homework, it reflects on you, as a parent. Schedule some time with your child early in the evening, when he isn’t too tired to focus, and make sure he completes his work.

Primary schoolers: Establishing expectations and rules along with parental monitoring at this stage will yield great results.

Preteens and Teens: Spending time with your child to ensure that she has completed her homework will help solve the problem. You can also try introducing a reward or incentive scheme for completing homework.

Poor communication and social skills

Lack of communication skills and sociability will lead to lack of self-motivation and self-confidence later.

Preschoolers and Primary schoolers: Keep your toddler busy with activities and engage him in conversation about what he does. This will strengthen his communication skills.

Preteens: Enrol your child in club activities at the school, with guidance from the teacher. It could be a Reading Club or a Drama Club.

Teens: Request the teacher to involve your child in extra-curricular activities in the school, like dramatics, team sports and story-telling. Get your child into the habit of reading the newspaper and using a dictionary. It will build her vocabulary, and that will give her confidence to communicate and cultivate social skills.

The common factor in all these complaints, across age-groups, is the need for parents to work with teachers in helping their child to overcome undesirable behaviour and speed along on the road to success.

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