Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Finding a Happy Balance between Parent and Educator.

This week a friend came to me for a bit of advice as both a teacher and a mum. She and I are alike in that we have been both, the difference being where my boys are now grown, her boys are just starting out in the education mine feild. As a parent we expect the best education possible for our children, as a teacher we know we can give that, but if you don't agree with a curriculum decision made in the classroom just how far do to you take it?

I pondered on whether or not I should blog about this topic as it was a personal request, but then I decided perhaps whether or not you are a teacher, parents from all walks of life often have issues with the school and are unsure how to deal with them. I considered the perspectives of both parents and teachers and came up with the same conclusion. No matter which side of the fence you appear to be sitting on, we all want the same outcome. That is, an enjoyable, safe and memnerable learning environment and experience for our children.

I remembered many years ago back to when my eldest son was in Kindergarten. I had an issue with the classroom teacher at the time about a decision she made that I definately did not agree with. It effected my son and I was not at all happy. I spoke to her about it on several occassions, but the problem was never adequately resolved. In more recent years I struck the same issue with a boy in my own Kindergarten class. I decided to make sure that I spoke to his parent to reach a mutually satisfying agreeement on how to deal with the issue. This kept everyone happy at home and at school, but what do you do when you can't agree?

As a parent, you do have options. You can speak to the Executive teacher in charge of the year level, you can speak directly to the Principal. Some parents may even feel strongly enough to bring up the issue at a P&C or School Board meeting. All these options do have an effect on your child though whether you mean them to or not. Another option is to quietly withdraw your child from the event in question, (if that is possible). This in turn presents its own set of issues. The child is missing out on a group activity and may not understand your reasoning. However in the end, as a parent, only you know your child the best and what is most suitable for them, therefore you are the only person who can inevitably make the decision. Whatever that is, you and your child have to be happy with the choices you make. 

Your children are at school for many years. Whether you have one child or a dozen children, it all adds up to a lot of time spent co-ordinating between teacher and home. We all want those years to be happy ones.

My advice in the end? Pick your battles. Decide which ones are worth fighting over and which ones you can live with. Try not to stress over every little thing and look at the question from all sides of the equation before you go charging in. These days we all tend to have a little bit of a helicopter parent in us, hovering closely in case they fall. A well known psychologist, Dr John Irvine, once told me I had to learn to cut the umbilical chord and let my child grow. He was absolutely right! We all need to step back at times, take a deep breath and allow our children the chance to make their own decisions. Even if they make mistakes or we don't agree, at least they have a chance to learn, as long as we are there to help when needed.
After all isn't that what good parenting is all about?

Have an opinion or something you would like to share about this topic? I would be interested to read your comments.


  1. :) Great post and a relevant topic for all parents, once-teachers or not. And I don't mind at all in being the impetus for a post x

    I would add that as my children move through school and as they grow, I find I trust more, I question less and I let them experience what is on offer, the highs and the lows, the challenges and all.

    However it is also a parent's responsibility to be aware of what is happening in the classroom and to reflect and question when they are not sure what is happening. It's about being an active partner and communicating between home and school. If parents always sit on their hands, and always assume that the teacher or school knows best then there will occasionally be some issues.

    And if the parent always says nothing then the teacher misses the opportunity to learn a bit more about the family values and experiences that shape the child in front of them.

    1. I whole heartedly agree Leonie. You have very eloquently expressed exactly what I was hoping to portray. Education is a partnership between parents and teachers and we all must respect each others point of view. Thankyou for the feedback and sharing your comments. :}