A new school year can bring so much excitement and adventure. Kids are so excited to get back to school so they can reconnect with old friends and make new ones, discover new concepts, and grow as children and students. Sure, there can be an adjustment period (the end of summer is hard on everyone!). But for the most part, going back to school is something all kids love. But what happens when your child goes back to school and their experience isn't what they were hoping it would be?
A new school year means a new teacher, and sometimes, that can be a difficult transition. It's not uncommon for kids to not like their teacher, and there's definitely a period of adjustment for students and educators. They're getting to know each other, figuring out their particular traits and quirks that make them unique. However, there may come a time when the problems between your child and their teacher can't be attributed to the start of the year adjustment. If your child doesn't like their teacher, there are definitely some things you as a parent can do to help resolve the issues.
Talk to your child about the problems they're having, and make sure to press for details
If your child comes to you and says they don't like their teacher, it's up to you to dig a little and find out why. Your child may claim their teacher is mean to them, so you need to ask why. What makes them think the teacher is being mean to them? What did the teacher say, or what was happening in the classroom when they said it? It could be something as simple as your child not liking their teacher making them do their homework, in which case you can take the time to explain to your kid why that's a reasonable request for their teacher to make. It's really important to get a good sense of WHY your child feels the way they do, so you can figure out your next steps.
Advocate for your child
Once you have a better idea of why your child doesn't like their teacher, make sure they understand that you are going to try to work with the teacher and administrators to make their school year great. You don't want to say you're going to "fix" it, because at this point, you may not even have the full picture of what is going on, and it may not be a problem that needs fixing. But it's important for your child to understand that you hear them, you are taking their concerns seriously, and you're going to work to try to help resolve them.
Have a face-to-face with your child's teacher
The teacher may not even know that there's an issue! So before you go full Mama Bear and go over their head to the principal, give them the benefit of the doubt and a chance to hear your child's side and respond. Explain what your child told you (but don't assign blame or get confrontational). It's entirely possible that your kid played a role in the situation, or it could all be a big misunderstanding. And again, there's a chance the teacher is unaware that your child feels the way they do; 30-35 kids in a class for one teacher means that sometimes, things get missed. Having a face-to-face chat gives you and the teacher a chance to discuss the issues your child is having, without escalating the situation. Plus, it allows you the opportunity to come up with a solution together.
But, if the face-to-face with the teacher does nothing to improve the situation, don't be afraid of escalating it to a higher power
Listen, it's unpleasant, but if your child has a genuine issue with their teacher, and it isn't resolved after speaking to the teacher, you may have to go over their head. Not to get the teacher in trouble or cause problems, but to make sure that your child's concerns are being addressed so their school year goes well. The bottom line is that problems with their teacher can greatly impact your child's ability to learn, and have a negative impact on their experiences and successes as a student. You don't want to fight all their battles, sure, but your first priority should be to advocate for your child and try to get their needs met. Sometimes, a meeting with the principal is the way to go, when all other interventions have failed.
Finally, if nothing is getting better, you may have to play hard ball and request that your child be moved to a different classroom
Schools are typically hesitant to do this, but in some cases, it's the only option. Again, your child's success during the school year is paramount. And if talking to your child and talking to the teacher and meeting with administrators hasn't solved the problem, then it's time to get firm. You want to make sure your child is in the best possible classroom with a teacher who cares and understand their needs. One bad year can really influence how a child feels about school for years to come. A change in environment may be all it takes to make sure your kid is in the best possible situation.