What to do when you disagree with how your school is dealing with your child

Whether your child is in public school or private school, chances are the day will come when you won’t like how a teacher or a principle deals with your child. And if that doesn’t happen (which it will), there will come a time when a school policy or standard procedure will cause your blood pressure to rise. What do you do then?

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Graduation is fun! Getting there can be challenging for parents.

  •  Is it illegal and immoral –as opposed to a decision you simply disagree with. There is a wide range when it comes to decisions we disagree with. It can be as simple as, “I would do that differently.” Or it can be an emotional, “That is so wrong. There is no way what they are doing is the best way to handle kids.”
  • Consider the 50% rule – we normally hear about these differences from our children, it is important to pre-determine how you are going to handle this information. We had a teacher during a September open house tell us parents, “I’ll make you a deal. I’ll only believe half of the things they tell me about you if you’ll only believe half of what they tell you about me.” That’s funny, but it’s also a great reminder. We don’t always get the full story from our children.
  • Remember the principle of investing – The more you invest into a school or a classroom or a teacher, the easier these conversations become. Number one because you have a relationship. But more importantly, they know you are for them! They won’t simply write you off as another whiny parent. Maybe they shouldn’t do that in the first place, but the reality is your child’s teacher is human. Even the best educators have a finite emotional bank account just like the rest of us. Too often, that account is drained dry by well-meaning but sometimes over protective helicopter parents.

By the time you walk in their guard is up and they’re braced for a fight. But if you’ve just run the Valentine’s Day party or helped read to her students she’ll know you’re there to help. Now you are set up to be heard. After all, the goal isn’t to simply vent. The goal is to affect change.

And finally, we found if we approach the teacher with the attitude of, “how can we help?” Any last defenses will be dropped or at least lowered. Say something like, “I want to help. I’m trying to understand your decision to move my son.” Or, “You know I’m on your side. I was a little confused when Johnny came home and told me he was no longer on student council.”

Then if your facts are correct and you still don’t like the decision, we’ve taught our kids:

The Art of the Appeal

Simply put there are four parts to an appeal:

  • Characterized by being obedient… in other words make sure your child typically listens to the teacher and isn’t a pain in the you know where.
  • A respectful approach… not demanding consideration but requesting it.
  • New information or perspective… this isn’t simply asking the question again, instead it’s bringing something new to the conversation
  • Handling the new information… no matter what the teacher or principle decides, we are going to accept it, support them and move on.

This doesn’t guarantee you’ll never be frustrated again. What it will do is give you a game plan the next time a situation like this comes home. How have you dealt with frustrating situations from school?