Be the Teacher's Pet: Working with Your Child's Teacher

Do You Respect Authority?

You can't expect your child to follow classroom rules if you're always challenging them. "Constantly grilling the teacher with questions like, 'Why are you making the kids learn this?' or 'Why is this a rule?' is a bad idea," says Dr. Karres. If the teacher feels like you're undermining her authority, she may not be too psyched to involve you in the classroom or to ask for your feedback.

If you and the teacher do clash on an issue, don't complain about it in front of your child -- she needs to have a positive relationship with her teacher. And give the teacher the benefit of the doubt if your kid says something like, "Mrs. Smith is mean." There are lots of reasons why a child will say this -- she misses you, she's having trouble making friends, or she wanted to run around the classroom but Mrs. Smith made her sit down. If she whines, say, "It's Mrs. Smith's job to make sure everyone follows the rules, and that means she has to be strict sometimes." Check in with your child in a week to see whether she still feels the same way; if it does seem like there's a real problem, schedule a meeting with your child's teacher.

And keep in mind that your kid's school success isn't determined just by her teacher -- at home, you need to reinforce the skills and manners that she's learning in school. "If parents follow through, kids get the chance to practice things like cleaning up and following directions," says Carol Bress, a kindergarten teacher in Yardley, Pennsylvania.

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