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Blaming the Teacher

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: Every day I receive a note telling me that my child has done something wrong. The stuff they complain about almost seems petty. They're kids -- have teachers forgotten that?

He is only in kindergarten. Do teachers take any child development classes so they can recognize normal child behavior? He doesn't hurt anyone -- he just gets bored. When I bring that up to the teacher she always blows me off.

What's up? I know my child better than she does. He has just turned five, and her answer is "He's just young." But there's a five-and-a-half-year-old in the class with the same problem.

A: You don't say specifically what behaviors your son is displaying at school. It's good that he is not hurting anyone. But a big part of any kindergarten curriculum is the teaching of appropriate social skills, and even though the things that your son is doing seem small to you, they must be behaviors that the teacher cannot allow.

You are correct when you say that you know your son better than anyone. Most teachers quickly reassure parents of that. But they are the ones who see them interact with other children in a group setting all day, and since they do take child-development courses they can recognize appropriate and inappropriate behavior.

It does sound like your son may be displaying some young kindergarten behaviors. Very few children get bored in kindergarten, and when they do seem bored, it may be because they are not ready for the skills being taught.

Try to reinforce good behavior in the classroom by focusing on your son's good days at school. Ask the teacher to send you a note (could be only a "smiley" face or check mark) to let you know when he has had a good day. Then follow up by allowing him extra computer time, an extra bedtime story, or a walk around the block with you.

You could also talk with the school counselor. He or she may be able to suggest other positive activities, and may be able to reinforce good behavior for your son at school.

More on: Expert Advice

Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


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