How To Communicate Concerns With Your Child’s School

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During your child’s thirteen years of schooling, it’s inevitable you will have some concerns or issues along the way.

If these are to do with your child’s progress or what’s happening in the classroom, the best person to talk to is obviously the child’s teacher.

However, sometimes parents have concerns with broader school practices and policies or issues with something happening within the school community.

Under these circumstances, it is usually best to address your concerns to the school administrators (e.g. the principals, deputy principals or year level coordinator).

The type of communication required will most likely be dependent on the nature of the concern. A serious matter may require a face-to-face meeting, while a less serious issue may be handled via email.

Most schools inform the school community of their preferred means of communication and who the most appropriate contacts are through parent information sessions, newsletters and on the school website. Key policies and practices may also be outlined on the website, and before approaching the school, it’s always a good idea to look into these to gain a full understanding of the issue.

Retired primary principal and Education Consultant, Denyse Whelan*, points out that the focus of any communication with the school should be the best interests of the child.

“It is always good for both parties to be child/student oriented in how the matter is to be dealt with and, if matters cannot be agreed up, to work out how to ‘live with’ whatever the concern is,” she says.

Denyse highlights some dos and don’ts of effectively communicating with the school:

  • DO stay calm.
  • DO have a clear idea of the issue you want addressed. Records of relevant events, times etc. are always helpful.
  • DO have some idea of what action/resolution/outcome you expect from the school.
  • DO take a neutral support person if you have a meeting with school administrators.
  • DON’T tell class parents about it on Facebook.
  • DON’T chat to other parents first on-line or at the school gate.
  • DON’T go to the front office and DEMAND to see someone NOW.

Some parents may be worried that raising concerns or complaints with the school will have negative repercussions for their child or that they will be seen as trouble makers.

However, if you approach the issue in a child-focused manner with a willingness to work with the school to come to a mutually acceptable arrangement, the school should be open to addressing your concerns.

Keep in mind, serial complainants or parents who complain over trivial matters run the risk of their concerns not being treated as legitimate.

Denyse suggests a good way to know more about the school and have the best opportunities for your child is to be involved in the school community through volunteering, fundraising or the Parents & Citizens Committee (or similar). “This shows that you, the parent, understand that you are all here for the child’s best interest,” she says.

If you believe that the matter has not been satisfactorily addressed, you can take it to a higher authority. Depending on the school and state, this may be a district office for state schools or governing board in the case of a private school. Once again, it’s important to follow the appropriate channels to ensure the best outcome for your child.

*Denyse Whelan B.Ed. M.Ed. is a retired K-6 Principal and Education Consultant.

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Renee Meier

Renée is a freelance writer, perpetual student and aspiring novelist. In her spare time she’s the sole parent to 3 rambunctious little people. She survives predominantly on coffee and squishy hugs.

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