Leaving your child in the hands of another for the majority of his day requires a healthy measure of trust if you’re going to be able to have any peace of mind at all as you go about your own day. With your child’s health, safety and education all resting squarely in the hands of his teacher during the week, how can you be sure that he’s getting the attention he needs from an educator you can trust? While the only way that you’ll ever truly know what goes on in the classroom is to sit in yourself, there are a few methods of finding out enough to decide whether or not you actually trust your child’s teacher.
Get – and Stay – Involved
If you’re a stay-at-home parent or your work schedule is flexible enough to allow you some freedom during the school week, you can use that time to volunteer with your child’s class or get involved with programs that will give you a bit more insight into the day-to-day routines of your child, his classmates and their teacher. An involved parent will have more firsthand knowledge of the curriculum and the school’s routine, and will have the chance to observe teachers in action. By watching how your child’s teacher acts when she thinks you’re otherwise occupied, you will be able to get at least a basic idea of how the classroom operates under her direction.
Talk to Other Parents
When a child who’s normally happy and eager to go to school starts finding excuses to miss class or begins feigning illness to get out of attending, it can be one of the more reliable indicators that there’s trouble. If your child is exhibiting this behavior or is outright stating that he doesn’t want to go to school, it’s a good idea to get in touch with other parents in his class. If other kids are behaving similarly, it could be a sign that there’s something going on in the classroom that’s less than ideal.
Visit the School
Parents who drop by their kids’ school unannounced will almost invariably have to check in at the front office, but they’re usually still granted access to their child’s classroom. Stopping by without an appointment will allow you to get a peek at what’s going on before the teacher has a chance to change the mood in the room or the course of the lesson, giving you a more realistic view than you’d have during a scheduled visit. Though you probably won’t want to make a habit of coming into your child’s classroom with no prior warning, it can be a valuable and effective tactic if you suspect a problem.
Follow Your Parental Instincts
There’s a lot to be said for old-fashioned parental intuition, and it’s something you should follow if you have a hunch that there’s trouble afoot. You know your child better than anyone else, so if his behavior is off and everything seems to be pointing at the teacher, there’s no harm in investigating a bit. Schedule a meeting with his teacher if necessary, or be extra-observant at an upcoming parent-teacher conference. It’s okay to be suspicious, as long as you behave reasonably and make an unbiased attempt to discover the truth. While you’re more likely to find that your child is struggling for other reasons or having difficulty with his peers, it’s not worth the risk you’d be taking to avoid a few sideways looks if you truly suspect that he’s having trouble with his teacher.
Realize that Even “Nice” Teachers Can Be Problematic
In a perfect world, your child’s teacher would be sweet, affectionate, charming and a top-notch educator to boot. In the real world, however, that just isn’t always the case. It’s important to keep in mind that, first and foremost, your child’s teacher is responsible for providing him with the knowledge he needs to be educated and successful in adulthood. Even a cheerful, welcoming teacher with a big heart and open arms can be a lackluster educator, leaving your child with what is essentially a very nice babysitter. You have to take the quality of his education into account as well. Even if he’s never uttered a single complaint about the way his teacher treats him, you need to know you can trust her with his future. If grades are slipping or he seems to me missing out on key aspects of his education, it is worth exploring the root of the problem.