What would you do if your child came home from school and said to you, “I hate school” or “I hate my teacher” or “My teacher hates me” or even things like, “I don’t want to go back to school ever again”? If this happens, and your children get upset about school, don’t dismiss your child. Something has gone wrong at school, and your child is probably in a stressful situation. The top two reasons for these kinds of complaints are:
There is a personality conflict with the teacher, or
Your child is being bullied in school, or in the worst case scenario, your child is being bullied at school by his/her teacher.
What Should You Do First?
Sit down with your
mijo/a and let him/her know that you are concerned about these statements and you want to talk about why s/he feels this way. You may need to pry it out of your child because kids sometimes think it is bad or wrong to speak negatively of their teacher. Sometimes you’ll hear things like, “my teacher hates me” and you will need to ask your child why s/he feels that way. Be persistent. Get details. Then prepare to make that call. You will need to meet face-to-face with the teacher and the principal. Now, keep in mind that it isn’t always necessarily that the teacher is a bad person or that the teacher is in fact mean or singling out your child. But none of that matters, for whatever reason, your child is not comfortable with the teacher, and you must take action to switch your child to another teacher. You have the right, if not the responsibility to do this for your child, especially if your child is in a lower grade. These formative years will determine whether or not they will be successful in their educational journey. Spending a year in a classroom with the type of stress and anxiety that kids feel in these situations sets a bad precedent for future years and limits their learning capacity while in the situation. Once you confirm that a switch is needed, you may have to insist and not take no for answer. Principals don’t like to do it, but they will when you insist that it’s in the best interest of your child. As an advocate, I have had many instances in which we needed to move kids to another classroom. At the end of the day, children are little people with feelings but somewhat powerless in their education. We need to be their champion and their voice. The law mandates that you as a parent must enroll your child in the local neighborhood school. We don’t have a choice in that, by law we have to send our kids off to school for six to seven hours per day. What you absolutely do have a right to do is choose the school and choose the teacher if necessary. Parents mistakenly believe that they do not have the right or the power to question the school’s decisions regarding your child. That is wrong, you can and must be assert your rights for your student.
Don't Leave the Principal's Office Without a Plan
I mentioned an anomaly earlier. The scenario where the teacher is a bully. This does happen. More often than we think. I have seen it more often in the upper grades. Unfortunately, these situations do occur and you still have the option of getting your child out of the abusive situation and filing a complaint. Over the years, I have noticed that these “bad teachers” are verbally abusive and they think that the old “it’s your word against mine” defense will be applied. Many times, they see the students they target as troublesome or at-risk. Sometimes, your child will be blamed and maybe even dismissed as a liar. However, if you know your people, like we mamas do, you will know if your child is telling the truth or being manipulative. My advice would be to always believe your child first. Now, in the case that your child is being bullied by another student, you will need to meet with the staff and principal to report it immediately. If the student is in the same classroom, you will need to ask that the other child be removed or that your child be moved to another class. In the event that the bully is in another class or grade, do not leave the meeting without a plan to address and remedy the bullying. Make sure your child feels safe and has a “go-to” staff person when s/he feels unsafe. In all of these scenarios, your child will feel better about school and learning if s/he feels that you are on his/her side and that you care enough to address issues causing stress and anxiety.
Leticia Chavez-Garcia is a mother, grandmother, former middle school teacher, former member of a school board of education and an education advocate for hundreds of parents and students in the Inland Empire. Having become a mother at 15, Leticia knows what it’s like to be a single mother trying to navigate the education system. Leticia received her B.S. in political science and public ...