Kindergarten is often a child’s first experience with school. The novelty makes it more difficult when things don’t go smoothly. You may feel your child has been unfairly disciplined, or perhaps the teacher didn't notice soiled pants for half the day. As a parent, you may not know what to do when there is a problem with your child's teacher. Remember that this is the beginning of your child’s education, and there is a learning curve for everyone. As with most things, communication and patience wins battles.
Talk to your Child
Making conversation with a 5 year old can be challenging, but it is necessary to get a more complete picture of the problem. If your child is upset because he was given a red card too many days in a row, ask what happened right before. Try to get a full picture of the events, and keep an open mind with a side of skepticism. Five-year-olds can sometimes skew stories to avoid getting in trouble or because they're still learning to separate fact from fiction.
Determine the Problem
Get specific about your complaints. Do you oppose the teacher's discipline methods? Has her approach led your child to miss the bus home or have to stay inside for too many recesses? Does your child get frightened when she raises her voice? Are you concerned about her teaching style? Keep a log of incidents so you have clear examples on what you'd like to see change in the kindergarten classroom. Be aware that kindergarten is not the same as it was when you went to school. Standards for kindergarten student achievement are becoming more vigorous with a heavy emphasis on academic markers such as letter recognition and math achievements. The stress of achievement lays heavy on kindergartners and is linked to increasing extreme and aggressive behaviors, according to the Alliance for Childhood.
Talk to the Teacher
Let the teacher know you have concerns. The teacher may not be aware that there is a problem, especially if your child is not showing signs of distress at school. Arrange for a meeting or phone call to talk about ongoing problems, but guard against being confrontational. Phrase your examples in a way that puts your child's interests first. For example, "Johnny has missed recess four times this month. I am concerned he isn't getting enough downtime while at school." This is a chance to hear the other side of the story. It is also an opportunity to reach a compromise and make a plan on how these incidents will be handled in the future.
Give It Time
Kindergarten is an adjustment time for children, teachers and parents. New experiences often need time to work out the kinks. Things change fast at this age, sometimes overnight. The overly strict and harsh kindergarten teacher in September may become an expert classroom organizer by January.
Talk to the Principal
If compromise cannot be reached and the problem persists, it is time to talk to the principal. Be aware the principal may first ask if you talked to the teacher. Avoid attacking the person or getting too emotional, but do address your child’s educational needs. In extreme conditions, the principal can arrange for a child to change classrooms. This should be a last resort. While it separates the child from the problem teacher, it also thrusts him into a new environment, with a new teacher and unfamiliar classmates.
- Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images