Handling Sticky School Situations

Too much homework? A teacher who yells? Our expert's diplomacy tips will steer you through the tough spots.

Requesting Specific Teachers

Classroom of kids


On the playground or at the pediatrician's office, you'll often hear parents comparing notes: "Is your daughter being overloaded with homework the way mine is?" or "Did your son tell you that the new kindergarten teacher yells a lot?" When you have a problem with your child's teacher or school, it's hard to know how involved to become -- and how to respond most effectively. Since you won't find this kind of guidance in school handouts, Child went to the experts.

Q: The school principal has a policy against parents' requesting specific teachers, but I know some parents have done it in the past. How can I make a request that the school will actually honor?

A: The key to getting what you want? Cite sound educational reasons for your preference. "Don't come in with hearsay about a teacher because often that hearsay is wrong," says Paul Young, Ph.D., a school principal for 15 years and president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals in Alexandria, VA. "Instead, tell the principal what your child needs, whether it's a teacher who emphasizes language arts or one who has a traditional, structured approach." Ideally, it's best to do this in the spring, before class assignments have been made. If you don't get your first choice? Give the teacher a chance, says Dr. Young. "Sometimes the teacher the parent wants is the popular, grandmotherly one, but she may not necessarily be the one who is best for your child."

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