Sometimes parents feel intimidated to come to the school with their concerns or they think “the teacher knows best. It’s not my job to interfere. I shouldn’t question them. I just have to trust them.”
But it is important to remember that you are the expert on your own child and if there is ever anything that you’re wondering about, or something that you feel uneasy about, then you need to be confident to dialogue with the teacher(s) and school staff to voice your questions and concerns.
Today, more than ever, parents need to take active responsibility for their children’s learning rather than just delegating that responsibility to teachers and schools.
Here are some suggestions to help parents proactively build a stronger relationship with school staff, before any problems happen:
- Be a visible presence in your child’s life at school as much as possible. When teachers and school staff know your name and face they will be far more likely to pick up the phone or send you a message if there is a problem.
Always, always, always ask questions. If you have concerns or questions, don’t hesitate to contact the school to say “I’m wondering about this, can you explain it to me?”
- Make a proactive effort to build open lines of communication. When we approach teachers and school staff with a respectful, helpful attitude then they are more likely to be receptive to our concerns.
Those are all strategies to build a relationship proactively, before an issue needs to be addressed. But what happens if there’s a problem or an issue that comes up?
- Be prepared to provide solutions, not just problems. If you have an issue with something that happened, what are some ideas which could address your concern? Try to prepare some suggestions to explain what you would like to see changed.
- Avoid going into the school when you are emotionally charged, angry or upset. Sometimes when an issue concerns our children we can easily become angry, upset or defensive. Whatever the issue, it is important to ensure that you communicate in a manner that is as calm and factual as possible.
Arrange important meetings ahead of time instead of just showing up. Teachers and administrators have a lot of responsibilities throughout a school day. Make an appointment ahead of time by phone or email so school staff are more likely to be focused on resolving your concern.
As much as possible, bring in facts about your specific concerns. Depending on your concern you may bring in certain examples of lessons, handouts or a specific timeline. Specific facts and concrete examples are more helpful than vague generalities.
- Follow the chain of command. Sometimes when parents are really upset, they will go directly to the principal’s office. However, it’s always best to start at the level of the person most directly involved in your specific concern. For example if the concern is a specific lesson then go directly to the teacher first. Then, if the teacher does not respond to your concerns go to the principal. If the issue is not resolved by the principal then consider going to your school board trustee.
What happens if you follow all of these suggestions and you still feel that your concern has not been resolved?
The inherent benefit of authentic education choice - and why PCE is such a strong proponent of strengthening education choice in Alberta - is that education choice naturally accommodates a diversity of student needs rather than imposing one-size-fits-all solutions on everyone through systems of centralized control.
That said, we would encourage parents and students to consider all the options available to them in their area and if one education setting is not meeting your child’s needs then consider accessing a different option. You can find more information on our “K-12 Education options in Alberta” page.
The area of health and sexual education is indeed a complex topic to unpack. If you have any further questions or concerns, please let us know by sending a message through our website contact form.
Return to the Health and Sexual Education page.