Each year brings the promise of a new beginning in the life of education. A classroom full of new supplies, a new flock of kids, and a new set of parents. This can trigger both excitement and fear for all teachers. (Yes, we get nervous too!)
With each new class, comes a new set of achievements and struggles. And this means countless conferences with eager parents anticipating the success of their children. Unfortunately, not all meetings revolve around successes; there are always those that, as a teacher, I struggled to plan. The ones where the child has a strong issue that hinders their learning. “How do I break this to them?” “What if they hate me?” “I don’t want to sound mean.” “Am I the only one who sees this?”
Not all parents are as understanding of their child’s strengths and weaknesses as some. In their eyes, their child is perfect…and they are perfect! (Mine are!!) Since we are well aware that nobody’s perfect, it is important to understand that every child has a series of strengths and weaknesses. It’s the teacher’s job to figure out the strengths and enhance them, as well as determine the child’s weaknesses and strengthen them.
Sound easy? Well it really isn’t. Sometimes the child is “perfect” through the beginning of the year, but when the material gets harder or more independence is expected, the weaknesses shine through.
When I was in the classroom, I would try and work through the struggles in the classroom setting first to see what could be done on my end. There were those instances when it was beyond my sole control and I needed to enlist the help of the parents, or perhaps another professional to get the child “back on the perfect track.”
Sometimes in these cases, the parents put up such a fight that they end up doing their child a disservice. I’m not saying that the teacher will get mad and take it out on the kid. (If that happens, the teacher shouldn’t be teaching.) When a parent refuses to “see” their child’s weakness when the first teacher speaks to them about it, too much time can pass for the situation to be corrected, and the child will continue to fall back.
It’s so much easier to correct a problem when the child is younger. Like the expression says, “it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.” The child will become comfortable with the way they do things, it will be harder to teach them a new way.
My suggestion is this: listen to your child’s teacher with open ears. In the end, the parent makes the final decision, but don’t shut out the suggestion before it is said. The only one you are hurting is your child.