Parents’ evenings are getting underway now and some of us are meeting new teachers for the first time. Hopefully they will all go swimmingly…but what do you do if your child’s standard of work is falling?
First – find out the detail of what is going on. It is unlikely that the work is suddenly too hard, if your child has always coped well beforehand. Is it all about getting started late? Sometimes a child can get in a pickle at the beginning of a new task and by the time they have sorted out pencil cases and bits of paper, everyone else has gone charging ahead. Or is it a friendship problem that is impacting on work, or do you sense that your child isn’t bonding with the new teacher? Gather information.
Next – and once you have a full understanding of the problem – ask the teacher what he or she is doing about it. Can you support your child with bucketfuls of praise when it has all gone well? Always bow to the teacher’s experience and don’t forget to say repeatedly how much you value their opinion. All that stuff gets you brownie points and you need those at this point, more than usual!
If the problem is rooted in a friendship issue then tackle it sensitively. Seek help from the teacher and the headteacher (again being grateful at all times to keep your relationship strong and to make sure that positive action is taking place) and keep on until you sense real improvement.
Always check the basics – eyesight and hearing.
If the problem is rooted in teacher-relationship issues then all your positive talk and praise should turn this around. ‘He loves your fabulous games lessons,’ or ‘the type of tables testing you have introduced is tough for him but such an improvement on last year’…will have an impact on your child’s relationship with the teacher. Be bold and go for it – and remember that you need to say a handful of positives before the teacher will take on board a negative and tackle it.
If it is simply a getting organised problem then again you will need the teacher on side. Ask if it would be ok to put together a little book, and hand over a set of stickers, so that your child gets a sticker for each lesson he or she is ready to start work with everyone else. Older children won’t want a sticker but a simple word of praise in the book if it has all gone well would be well-received. Ask for positive feedback and say that you are working on it at home too. Check all basic equipment is in good order – new pencils, good pens etc – so that it is easy for your child to get started. Ask the teacher (very gratefully) if he or she would mind just checking their readiness for the lesson work and making a positive comment or two at the time. Then email – always charmingly – each day to get a bit of feedback on how it is going. It will all be fixed in no time.