Five things to do when things go wrong at school

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Despite best teaching practice things do go wrong at school. Most kids experience learning difficulties from time to time. The developmental nature of childhood means that there will always be some turbulence, particularly around key transition ages, such as the start of adolescence.

Your approach as a parent when your child has difficulty at school makes huge difference to their resilience, and their future relationships with teachers and peers.

Here’s a five point checklist to help you stay focused and be effective if your child experiences difficulty at school.

1. Stay calm and rational

Don’t get on the phone straight-away when things go wrong! It’s natural to protect, or defend your children, particularly when you think that they’ve come in for some unfair or poor treatment. But acting when you are full of emotion is dumb! Take your time to think through how you might assist your child. Take a few deep breaths and calm down……………

2. Get the all facts

Once you’ve calmed down, then get the facts about the situation. Kids are faulty observers and often only see one side of a story when there’s a problem with a teacher or a fellow student. Ask good questions to help the full story emerge.

3. Go through the right channels

Approach the school calmly, going through the school office, or directly to your child’s teacher if that is the usual protocol.  If you have already established a relationship with the teacher concerned, then it’s often easier to approach them directly.

4. Look for solutions rather than blame

State the problem as you see it and view your child’s teacher as an ally, not a foe. “I’m really worried about Jeremy. He’s been acting strangely lately and I need some help” is the type of approach that will elicit a helpful response. Talk about your concerns and keep the discussion focused firmly on what’s best for your child. Listen to your teacher’s viewpoint, valuing a different perspective.

5. Stay in touch

Be realistic with your expectations, remembering that some problems can’t be solved to your satisfaction, nor will they be resolved straight away. Be prepared to work alongside your child’s teacher over the long-term, which means you need to keep communicating with each other.

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