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

Do You Play Well with Others?

If it seems like your child is struggling at school, schedule a conference. "Don't wait until a problem reaches crisis level before you bring it up," says Dr. Epstein. Teachers are more than happy to talk to you, especially if you check any anger or frustration at the door. Start with a neutral, blame-free question: "I really want my child to enjoy school, but he isn't as happy as I'd like him to be. What do you suggest we do?"

If the teacher comes to you with a problem, don't get defensive. "Remember that the teacher is trying to look out for your kid," says Bress. "Listen to her side of the story and keep an open mind." To get a better perspective on the issue, try volunteering in your child's classroom. Even if you have only 15 or 30 minutes to stop by, you may learn more about the situation.

Also, you shouldn't expect the teacher to correct every single weakness, at least not right away. "Some parents only focus on one problem, so they don't see the learning process in the big picture," says Kimberly Oliver Burnim, a kindergarten teacher in Silver Spring, Maryland. "Sometimes teachers need to focus on certain goals and save others for later." For example, if the class is learning to write capital letters, the teacher may ignore spelling mistakes during the lesson so the kids don't get overwhelmed.

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