October ends the honeymoon phase between your child and his or her new classroom. Now your child’s teacher and classmates get to experience his or her usual behavior. The same behavior, perhaps, that you remember from last year, or the year before. Behavior prompting phone calls and notes from the school about your child distracting others students or continually leaving an assigned seat.
If this is the case, the way you respond to these current allegations may determine whether your child’s negative behavior will remain until June or gradually cease. If you, like your child’s teacher, want to see your child succeed in class, you may have to change the way you’ve been handling those phone calls and school meetings. There are ways parents can effectively collaborate with schools in order to lessen their children’s poor behavior.
If your child’s behavior requires more communication than quarterly conferences and annual open houses, identify a standing day to check in with the classroom. That might be a five-minute phone conversation about your little one every Friday. Or it could be an email or sealed note correspondence with the teacher mid-week. No matter the day, make it a consistent, continual monitoring of your child’s progress. Having a consistent check-in day makes it easier for you to determine why your child acts out in school. Perhaps after visiting dad for the weekend, your son has rough Monday mornings. You can better gage this by hearing what your child’s teacher reports each week. In addition, you can also hold your child accountable for his behavior because you know what he’s been up to.
Support teacher consequences with parental ones
Show your child that you and his teacher are partners in his educational success by following-up a consequence given at school with one given at home — bad or good. If, for instance, your child misses recess because of talking too much in class, hold off on letting your child play videogames after homework. On the other hand, if your child earns a treat at school for remaining focused, allow him to play outside an extra 15 minutes that day. As a teacher, I’ve always found that students were more reluctant to act out when they knew they faced a parent punishment after one from the teacher. So show your child that you and his teacher are on the same team by giving consequences together.
Do classroom observations
Observe your child’s class in action on a scheduled day if you haven’t yet. You will gain valuable insight about your child’s behavior in school from showing up in your child’s classroom. Classroom observations demonstrate how the teacher manages the class, how your child interacts with classmates, and how his classmates behave. Your observation will also allow you to create effective strategies that your child can use to improve his behavior. Let’s say your seventh-grader sits in the back of the class surrounded by attractive girls. You can urge your child to request a seating change during class lectures and independent work. Remember, stick to strategies that your child can implement, not the teacher. But if you see things in the class or school that are unsafe, address that with school officials.
Monitor your child at home
Observe your child’s behavior in all settings. In order to know what to look for, listen to what your child’s teacher reports from class. Is your child having trouble staying in his or her seat? Does your child shout out answers in class instead of raising his or her hand? During the next phone call or conference, take notes. Ask questions about when altercations happen and with whom.
After gaining clarity, be intentional about monitoring your child at home to see if he or she displays the same behavior. Inappropriate behavior displayed in multiple settings could be a sign of a bigger issue, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), an issue that deserves professional attention. Arguing with an authority figure at school could be mirrored at home, such as slamming doors in your face at home.
Beware of poor classroom behaviors showing up at home, and seek counsel from your child’s pediatrician or the school social worker if you see similarities.