There are so many wonderful schools, nurseries and childcare centres out there but no setting is perfect. It is quite common to come up against difficulties with school and parent values not always aligning.
I have worked with parents who have been told that their young child has "three strikes and they will be removed" and a carer whose child’s development was questioned and compared to that of a “normal child”. These are questionable if not indefensible responses to children simply communicating a need, and for a parent these interactions are heartbreaking. Without knowing the complexities of the education system, for some parents/carers they can begin to believe that these are standard responses from educators.
So what do we do as parents/carers when we have a feeling that issues are not being handled sensitively or in line with our expectations?
Request a meeting
Do not try to deal with issues that are complex and ongoing when passing your child’s teacher in the corridor at drop off or pick up. These kinds of issues require a slot of dedicated time where you and your child’s teacher can sit down and give the issue the focus and attention it deserves. Avoid leaving the meeting without having either a) clearly agreed next steps to resolve the issues in hand b) another meeting in the diary to continue the conversation.
Share your concerns with the right person
Always speak to your child’s teacher first, let them explain their viewpoint and respond. If this hasn’t worked out for you then ask to speak to the headteacher. In extreme cases you may feel the need to speak to somebody in the education department of your local council. It is always preferable to build an open and honest relationship with your child’s teacher - most of the time you both want the same outcome you just need to find a way to get there together.
Try to avoid going into any meetings with school staff feeling angry, flustered or ready to attack. Give the member of staff the opportunity to explain what the issue looks like from their point of view, it can look very different at school from at home and of course, they should do the same. Try to remember that you all want the same thing - a happy child. If you honestly believe that this isn’t at the forefront of your child’s teacher's mind then maybe it’s time to speak to the headteacher.
Come up with a few practical next steps together. If you do not agree with or do not understand the aim of the teacher’s suggestion, then be honest. It is important for your child that you and your child’s school can work together to resolve issues. It is also effective to include the child in these discussions depending on the nature of the situation and the individual involved.
Always know that there are options available. Speak to your child’s school about options within the school - changes to routines, classes, resources and interactions. Removal of your child from any setting can seem like an extreme response and one that could cause the most disturbance for your family but if you have tried all other avenues then changing settings may be the best option for your family, never feel stuck just because you have made your school choice.
If you would like more guidance with issues you face regarding your child’s primary school experiences please do get in touch with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be happy to help or put you in touch with people who may be able to support you further.