Help! Who Do I Talk To at My Child’s School? - By Barbara Smith
Schools can seem very intimidating at first. It can be difficult to know who to talk to and who can answer your questions. The secretary at the school can answer lots of questions regarding when things are happening or how to communicate with the school.
It is important to read all the notes that come home from your school. If they have a website; check it regularly
If your child is having a problem at school, the first person you need to talk to is the teacher. If you are concerned about language, most schools have someone who can help with interpretation if you need it. You should make an appointment with the teacher, and then call the school office and tell them you are meeting with the teacher and need someone to translate. It is very difficult for a teacher and the school if you just drop by the school and want to see the teacher. If your child is in junior high, middle school or high school, you can talk to your child’s counselor, who may be able to help.
If you do not feel your child’s teacher is helping solve a problem your child is having, the next person you can talk to is the principal. It is easy to call the school office, or stop by, and ask to make an appointment. Explain the problem calmly, and ask the principal what you and the school can do to solve the problem. It is best if everyone works together to solve any problem that may be happening. If you still do not think the problem is being addressed, you may contact your elected school board member (their contact information is on the district website) and they can help you figure out who is the best person to talk to for the problem your child is having.
As a parent, you have the right to know how your child is doing. Your school will hold parent/teacher conferences two or three times a year. This is a time when you can come to the school with your child and meet with his or her teacher or teachers. The teacher will tell you how your child is doing and what needs to be worked on. This is a very good time to ask any questions you may have. Teachers expect you to ask questions. You could ask “How can I help at home?”, or “What kind of books should my child be reading”? , “What do the diffferent grades mean?”, or “How is my child doing compared to other children his age?” All parents should to go to these conferences. It is very important that you keep communication open.
Sometimes it seems teachers and principals have their own language. There are lots of words used in education that other people do not use regularly. If you are visiting with teachers and they use a word you do not understand, ask them what it means.
The important thing is for you to do your part. Talk to your children about how things are going at school. Help them with their homework; even if it just means making sure they are given time to get it done. Have your children read to you every night. It can be from a story book they are reading, a comic book, or from a text book they are using at school. After they read to you, ask them to expain what they just read. This will help them remember what they learned. If your children say they do not have homework, have them use homework time to do additional reading. Don’t let them use homework time to watch TV or play video games. This will show your children you want them to be good students and a good readers.
You need to make sure your children get to school on time and is there every day. If they are late, they disturb the class and it can be very embarrasing for your child. If they miss school, they miss everything the teacher taught that day. This is difficult for students. Not only must they do their regular homework, they must complete all the classwork they missed by being absent. By making sure your children are at school, you are showing them you think it is important.
As a parent, you need to know what is going on at your children’s school. Attend parent conferences, and school activities. Support your children’s learning by helping with homework, getting them to school every day, feeding them breakfast, and sending them to school happy and ready to learn. All of these things show your children how important you think education is. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Keep communication with teachers open and positive. Your children’s success is everyone’s goal.
Executive Director, Utah Family Partnership Network