We all want our kids to be successful in school. I think that I can safely assume that. I bet most of us would love to help out in that success in any way possible. I have to tell you though, that in 22 years of teaching there has been a phenomenon that never fails to boggle my mind. It is the undermining force behind many disputes, destroyer of relationships and yet it is so simply avoidable.
Allow me to illustrate with an example: Imagine that your child has been diagnosed with a learning disability or learning difference. You are a keen parent, so you dive into the research, find excellent resources and fill your brain with knowledge. A passion is ignited. You ARE a good parent. You WILL help your child to succeed.
At this point, as a Special Educator, I want to personally thank you for taking the imitative and being so engaged in your childâs education and well being!
But, this is where things can go VERY WRONG!
In your enthusiasm for making life better for your child you decide that you will share your new knowledge with your child’s teacher. Your intentions are good. You gather the best of the research, books, articles – whatever you think will help and you smile proudly as you hand the materials over to the teacher and say, I just want to share these with you. I have learned so much and I am hoping we can have a meeting and decide how we will be implementing these ideas into Johhny’s education.
The teacher’s response is not as full of gratitude as you might expect. She does not show the level of inspiration that you were hoping. In fact, she responds defensively. You leave the school wondering what went wrong?
Now let’s just take one more scenario.
You arrive at home after a long, exhausting day at work. The kids are arguing about who ate the last cookie only stopping to ask Whaaaat’s for dinner?
The breakfast dishes have not made their way to the dishwasher, and the dog has sifted through the garbage bag that was left on the floor. Toys are strewn everywhere and you feel compelled to hide in the bathroom for some reprieve! A knock on the door reveals your child’s teacher standing there, smiling warmly. Upon welcoming him in, he digs a package of papers neatly stapled together along with a book. The title jumps out at you, ‘Helpful Parenting Tips.’
The hairs on your back begin to bristle, the blood in your veins seems to quicken its upward journey to your head – can he be serious? What is he trying to tell me? Does he think I am unfit? What did I ever do to bring this on? Does the school think I am failing as a parent?
No. No. The kind teacher just wants to be helpful.
Think about it. Do we sometimes treat people (teachers) the way we would NEVER want to be treated? In spite of the best of intentions, we can seriously undermine critically important relationships by trying to be helpful.
What are some other ways that a parent can constructively support their child’s education (and teacher) without unintentionally insulting them?