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Sticky Situation: What to Do When You Don't Like Your Kid's Teacher

Sticky situation #312: You don't see eye-to-eye with your child's teacher.
Sticky situation #312: You don't see eye-to-eye with your child's teacher.
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We all wish our children could sail through their academic careers with straight As, perfect attendance and glowing reports from all of their teachers. After all, everyone loves your kids, right? They're perfect! But unfortunately, there will probably come a time when your child just doesn't get along with a teacher -- or you and the teacher just don't get along.

So how do you decide when to confront a teacher about a problem and when to lay low? And how do you clearly communicate your concerns without becoming a thorn in the teacher's side? Keep reading to learn how to navigate the sometimes-treacherous waters of parent-teacher relations.

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If you start the year off on the right foot, you might prevent problems before they even start. Introduce yourself right off the bat, and open the lines of communication early. Many experts suggest writing a friendly note or e-mail to the teacher at the beginning of the year that gives him or her a little insight into your child -- and be sure to include your contact information so the teacher knows you're always available.

On the next page, we'll talk about what to do if things don't start off all warm and cuddly.

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If you get a bad vibe about the teacher from the start, or if your child seems to take an instant dislike to him or her, don't jump into action immediately. The beginning of the school year is a transitional time -- your kid just might need a little while to get used to a new teacher and a different classroom style, especially if he or she really loved the last teacher. Sit back and observe the situation before you decide to do anything about it. Things could work themselves out.

But if things don't improve, it's time to take an honest look at the situation -- and at yourself.

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Often, your misgivings about the teacher come from your child. But what if he adores the teacher and you just can't shake that bad feeling? Try to figure out exactly what's bothering you. Jot down a list, then show it to your spouse and a friend to see if they agree that there's a real problem -- or if they think you're just being crazy. If your kid is enjoying school and seems to be thriving, maybe you can overlook philosophical differences. Face it, your child is going have all kinds of teachers, and you can't expect to see eye-to-eye with all of them.

But what if, even after trying, things continue to be a struggle?

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If you've decided that there really is a problem, it's time to talk to the teacher. Schedule an appointment instead of trying to cram in a conversation at school drop-off or pickup. And please, don't confront the teacher with a head full of steam. "Go in as someone seeking help in solving a problem," says Stephanie Dolgoff of "Parenting" magazine. Start a conversation with the teacher instead of immediately putting him or her on the defensive. Even if you don't come out with a clear solution to the problem, you'll at least get a good idea of how the teacher communicates, and you'll be able to figure out how to proceed from there.

But what do you do when polite conversations don't do the trick?

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If you've met with the teacher multiple times and the situation isn't improving, it might be time to talk to the principal. But don't take this step lightly -- it could cause even more problems for your kid if the teacher thinks you're going over his or her head. Riding out the year, even if it's uncomfortable, could be the best option. But if you feel that your child is truly miserable and his or her education is being affected, head to the principal's office. Changing classrooms is always a last resort, but if you and the principal make that decision together, it could make everyone -- including the teacher -- happier.

For more tips and topics about your child's education, click to the next page.

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Sources

  • Dolgoff, Stephanie. "5 Smart Ways to Handle Teacher Troubles." Parenting (Accessed June 22, 2010) http://www.parenting.com/article/Child/Daycare--Education/5-Smart-Ways-to-Handle-Teacher-Troubles
  • Ed.gov. "Working with Teachers and Schools -- Helping Your Child Succeed in School." (Accessed June 22, 2010) http://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/succeed/part8.html
  • Glassman, Jackie. "What to Do When You Don't Like Your Child's Teacher." (Accessed June 22, 2010) http://school.discoveryeducation.com/parents/teacherlink/articles/dontliketeacher_1.html
  • Hartwell-Walker, Marie. "8 Tips for Building Healthy Parent/Teacher Relationships." (Accessed June 23, 2010) http://psychcentral.com/lib/2009/8-tips-for-building-healthy-parentteacher-relationships/
  • Hartwell-Walker, Marie. "When a Teacher and Child Don't Get Along." (Accessed June 22, 2010) http://psychcentral.com/lib/2008/when-a-teacher-and-child-dont-get-along/
  • Kruger, Pamela. "Handling Sticky School Situations." Parents (Accessed June 22, 2010) http://www.parents.com/kids/education/back-to-school/working-with-teacher/
  • Seid, Nancy, Diane Debrovner and the editors of Parents magazine. "Working Together with Your Child's Teacher." Parents (Accessed June 22, 2010) http://www.parents.com/kids/education/back-to-school/working-with-teacher/
  • Thompson, Tricia. "Reality Check: My Child vs. the Teacher." Parenting (Accessed June 22, 2010) http://www.parenting.com/article/Toddler/Behavior/Reality-Check-My-Child-Vs-The-Teacher

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