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10 Things You Should Never Say to Your Kid's Teacher

It's great to be a teacher. Not everyone, however, has forgotten teachers are parents themselves, and when we have a child, teachers, and parents, both speak up. When you have to address parents on the PTA or Back School Nigh, you have to be careful with the kind of words you are about to use. It's in your best interest to avoid coming off as too critical or demanding to your child's teacher has explained Suzanne Tingley, a former teacher, principal and superintendent, and author of the book How to Handle Difficult Parents.

"Expressing your concerns in a neutral way usually leads to a more constructive conversation and a better outcome for your kid, wrote Sarah Stebbins in reference to this aforementioned book at WomansDay.com:

Do not talk down to the teacher
Photo: AdWorld Bank Photo Collection

The ten expressions we recommend avoid using with your children's teacher:

1. You don't give him enough time to finish his tests. The kicker is "I’d like to hear your side of the story." It suggests you are mediating between two equals. Even a better tactic: Brad seems to be struggling with his classwork. What are you seeing? The start from a place of information-gathering, as opposed to putting the teacher on the defensive, you’ll save yourself the embarrassment if it turns out your son has been doodling during every test.

2. My son is acting out because he’s bored in class. Instead of starting off with an excuse, find out what’s really going on and promise to speak to your child. Almost all teachers work hard trying to make school interesting and challenging. If you really think he’s not being challenged, avoid generalizations and mention a specific problem and solution: "Brad seems to have the division algorithm down. Could we give him something more challenging?"

3. My daughter would never lie. Surely your daughter's teacher is a busy person but suggesting that he/she misplaced a paper shouldn't help at all. Don't say kids never lie. Especially when they want to justify academic work. It's better to say: "Tatty says she turned in the paper. I don’t know what happened to it, but I’d hate to have her take a zero. Can she hand in something late?

4. Please, give him make up work. That's ok you take the trip you've been dreaming about, just do it out of the school period. Don't bother to ask for a worksheet packet suggesting it can replace teaching. Teachers cannot anticipate everything that will happen in class over a period of time. It's a different thing if you ask for a general overview, like what chapters will be covered in each subject, and accept that your child will need to play catch-up when you get home.

5. Your son knows his limits. Parents as teachers both want kids to excel. When taking the AP classes, ask for the teacher’s opinion, not his endorsement. Remember that sometimes less is more. Taking too many advanced classes for a kid is unhealthy. Let your student carry on things on his own peace. "What often happens is the kid who isn’t yet ready for the challenge ends up getting demoted to a regular class, which then feels like a failure," said Tingley.

6. Why do you give so much homework? Traditional parents love to hear their kids have homework to do. But pushing a teacher to assign more homework means, "You don’t know how to do your job" or "Why don’t you care about my child’s well-being?", assuming he had to complete a high number of classwork. Instead, try to phrase your question this way: "Zaydha’s been having trouble getting everything done. Are other kids having trouble, too?"

7. After school activities are the reason Brad couldn't finish his reading. We should encourage them to do after school activities. It all depends on your school calendar. Plan on your first grader devoting about ten minutes per night to homework; for each subsequent grade, add ten more minutes. So a fourth-grader might have 40 minutes' worth of work, while a high school senior will get two hours, which should still leave enough time for a few of your child’s favorite activities, suggests Tingley.

8. Dear Mrs. Malko: Why did you give Chris this grade? Do the teacher really gave him a grade? Or he earned? For things like these use proper communication channels. A parent-teacher conference works better for a lengthy response. But talk to your kid first, especially at the high school level. Kids should be taking on some of this responsibility themselves. If your child or you haven't received a satisfactory answer, by all means, send a (non-accusatory) note: "Can we talk about what Chris can do to bring up her science grade? I’m also available by phone if you prefer."

9. Playing down a complaint about bullying. For a parent, a kid is an angel. But teachers make those calls when they need parents to help in reinforcing lessons. This can be trickier with girls than boys, since female altercations tend to be more insidious. Ask the teacher what behavior he has witnessed in the classroom and talk to your child about why whispering behind another student’s back, or passing notes about her, is wrong. Sexting is an issue. Tell the teacher to "stop the stuff you see."

10. Follow the chain of command. There is nothing more annoying than overpass the line of command, at least you really want to annoy a teacher and for a good reason dislike him. or if you’re upset about something, such as an unfair grade. Still, unless something truly egregious has happened like a teacher threatened your child or grabbed him roughly, it’s the wrong move.

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