Mom asks what she should say to the teacher, and the post opened a discussion about needs, inequities, and how to respectfully advocate for your child.

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An image of an F on a colorful background.
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Report card day can bring out all sorts of feelings in kids and parents—pride, joy, concern, and maybe some disappointment. But one mother also experienced confusion and anger when her son brought home his report card.

The mom looked to fellow Redditors for advice on how to handle the situation, and it opened up a nuanced discussion about different needs, families, and communication with teachers.

Here's the background:

"I have a fifth-grader who came home today with all As and Bs on his report card except for one subject in which he got an F," wrote u/detroitmommy in the Parenting subreddit. "He told me it is because I have to sign his homework or the teacher doesn't accept it."

Mom concedes that she's seen the signature line on his assignments but is often too busy working when he asks and has ultimately forgotten to sign it. Unfortunately, her son has had to pay what she feels is too steep a price, and she's not happy about it.

"I am livid and not really sure what to do to remedy this situation," she continued. "How is it fair that my kid completes his work and then gets punished because he has a busy, full-time working, and forgetful mother?"

She wants to know how to make things right.

"Should I talk to the teacher to get his grade changed?" she asked Reddit. "What would I say?"

The post got 626 comments before the administrator locked it. The wide range of opinions showed the situation is anything but black and white.

Some really disagreed with the teacher.

"I also don't agree with this policy (also a teacher). What is that teacher assessing? How does this grade show what is being learned?" a Redditor responded.

But others pointed out the teacher may have their reasons.

"[The] teacher's intention is to get the parents involved," wrote another. "Execution is lacking [in my opinion], but I appreciate the attempt."

The original poster didn't mention that her child had ADHD, but one mom shared how she got an entire policy changed after noticing her child with the chronic condition was placed at an unfair advantage. Basically, his grade for one assignment was based on whether he did the work, submitted it online, and handed a paper version to the teacher.

"He's…ADHD, so let me…point out how incredibly organized he needs to be to touch an assignment three times in a two-day period," the person said.

The commenter started asking questions about the reasoning behind having students submit it multiple times and whether all students in the class had access to a computer. "This is no longer a policy, and the work is either submitted online OR…on paper. Not both. You have to be smart in how you approach it so that you will receive the response or reaction that is beneficial to your student."

Others echoed the sentiment of approaching the situation carefully and advised Mom to take a beat before contacting the teacher.

"I would reach out and ask for clarification of the policy and what the teacher's intention is with it. I wouldn't assume or assign blame but rather make sure what your kid said is accurate and give themselves a chance to explain their thought process," said the top commenter.

Teacher troubles can be tricky, especially since different children and families are working under different sets of circumstances. At the same time, teachers may have their reasons for having specific policies. Experts suggest approaching conflicts with teachers by:

  • Asking children questions. Kids will sometimes say things like, "My teacher doesn't like me." But that doesn't offer a nuanced view of the situation. Ask your child why they feel this way. See if they can give you a specific example. Perhaps what the teacher said was insulting, or maybe they requested the child raise their hand, and the child didn't want to.
  • Advocating for your child. Write down the child's version of the story, and then tell them you'll have a conversation with the teacher.
  • Remaining diplomatic. Keep in mind, your child's version of the story is only one side. Don't go into conversations with teachers looking for a fight. Seek to understand their side of it and if you can come to an amenable solution.

Remember, teachers, parents, and administrators should all feel like partners in a child's life, but even partnerships have to overcome challenges. Compassionate, empathetic communication between students, parents, and teachers can help everyone come to an understanding.