Many times parents are bombarded with phone calls and meetings from the school about how their child is behaving. While it is highly important for a parent to impress upon their child the importance of education, following adult directions, being respectful, and learning all they can to be a knowledgeable well-rounded individual; there is only so much a parent can do regarding their child’s behavior in an environment that they did not set up or create, filled with expectations and demands made by others. Parents can tie behaviors at school to positive or negative consequences at home; however, this is not always an effective approach especially when the child is struggling behaviorally, emotionally or academically within the school environment and does not yet have the ability or internal motivation to employ self-control. It is great to keep parents in the loop about what is going on with their child’s education, but often parents feel compelled to fix a problem they have no control over, which causes them a great amount of stress.
Please take the following into consideration when calling a parent to address a child’s behavior in school:
It is extremely challenging for one teacher to have 25+ kids in a room who all may learn at a different rate, have different learning styles, different interests, a different home life, and may or may not not know how to communicate or cope when faced with challenges. It is unrealistic to expect a teacher to have a class of perfect little angels ready to learn, with no problems or disruptions in this type of environment. It is almost like setting the stage for failure.
Children may not be at a place developmentally, emotionally, cognitively, or academically to handle being in that large of a group with only one adult to support them. This is possibly a fundamental flaw in traditional education. This type of set up can easily lead to emotional breakdowns, resistance in the school setting, arguments among students, confusion, and students flat out refusing to participate.
It is really not that unheard of or uncommon for students to struggle when placed in an environment like this.
We need to discuss alternatives to teaching our students how to be productive citizens, because parents cannot control what their child does in a system that they did not set up and that they have no control over. Yes, as I said, parents can impress upon their children the importance of being respectful in school and learning to the best of their ability. Parents can work with their children on coping skills, empathy, and how to handle problems as they arise if the parents themselves know how to work with their child on these skills. But at the end of the day, the school system is creating the environment and no matter how many parent meetings and parent phone calls you make, the changes may need to start within the educational setting.
Some children easily thrive in a traditional classroom setting and others don’t and that doesn’t mean that something is wrong with them or that they should be punished, it just means they might need a different approach.
Additionally, how can we adequately address bullying and abuse in the school setting, when the ratio makes it almost impossible to adequately monitor and intervene?
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Rachel Wise is a certified school psychologist and licensed behavior specialist with a Master’s Degree in Education. She is also the head author and CEO at educationandbehavior.com, a site for parents, educators, and counselors to find effective, research-based strategies that work for children. Rachel has been working with individuals with academic and behavioral needs for over 20 years and has a passion for making a positive difference in the lives of children and the adults who support them.