When a parent sends their child off to school their deepest fear is that the school will not “do right” by their child. This is not a completely unfounded fear. While I have yet to encounter “the teacher that hates kids” in my 9 years of teaching, I can honestly say that not all children are treated the same either.
Teachers and administrators DO in fact have favorites and well… the opposite of favorites. I would be lying if said I have never seen these feelings manifest themselves in the classroom. If you don’t want to play the odds and simply hope and pray school employees are fond of your child, there are several things you can do as a parent that speaking from experience make a huge difference in the experience of your child.
- Be an active parent
This is the number one way to make sure your child treated fairly. There is no substitute for the pressure that comes from being a highly active parent. Knowing that you will see or hear from a parent makes you question what you say and do to a student because in the back of your head you know there is a strong chance you will have to explain it to their mom or dad. Obviously, you should do right by every student anyway, but teachers are definitely more careful with students who parents are present.
- Know your rights
Just like everywhere else, you need to know your rights and you need to know your child rights. There are things that schools can and can’t do. If you don’t know what those things are its very hard to hold schools accountable. For example, many parents don’t know that schools have to accommodate students with disabilities for ALL school activities including field trips and extra curriculars. Schools routinely violate this right because parents don’t know.
See student rights. (ALCU)
- Meet the administrators
Having a relationship with your child’s teacher is one thing but having a relationship with the principal or even the assistant principal is the next step up. Hopefully you never need an admin to intervene on behalf of your child but there is power in the principal knowing the parent of a child. Normally this happens when a family has had multiple kids attend a school over a number of years, but it doesn’t have to take that long it just takes more effort on behalf of the parent. When admin take an active interest in the welfare of a particular child it has a way of trickling down to teachers.
- Make sure children know what is okay and what isn’t
School children have the reputation of being complainers but in reality, they will go along with a lot simply because the school or a teacher tells them they should and they are conditioned to listen to adults. Children should have some idea of what their school experience is supposed to be like. For example: students should know teachers shouldn’t be demeaning them or calling them names. Although being an active parent is the best thing you can do… you can’t be there all the time. If you teach your child to look for the same things you do then you will be able to hold teachers and admin accountable. Note: This means you have to ask your child what is going on too.
Schools mistreat students for a variety of reasons. Negligence, ignorance and even malice. But it is of little consequence to you if your child is mistreated for reason X vs reason Y. It’s up to you to look out for your child’s best interest.