The first year of school should be exciting. For some children, their first exposure to school is experiencing the harsh reality that not all adults are kind. If your son’s kindergarten teacher is mean, it can cause problems during the school year. Be proactive, and don’t let it ruin his educational experience.
Talk to Your Son
If your son reports that his teacher is mean, you want to understand exactly what he means. Is she yelling at the class? Did he have to stay inside during recess? Is the behavior directed solely at him, or does she treat the entire class that way? You want to gather as much information as possible before talking with the teacher.
Consider your son’s personality. Does he tend to exaggerate? Does he generally listen and respond to direction? School is an entirely different world, particularly if your son has not attended preschool. He may mistake normal teaching behavior for unpleasantness.
If you believe there is a problem, contact the teacher. Make an appointment so you can sit down and talk. This is not the type of conversation you want to have in the hallway before the bell rings.
Talk to the Teacher
Be honest when you talk to the teacher. There is no reason to beat around the bush. Let her know that your son is unhappy in class. Mention the specific things that he has mentioned, such as her raising her voice.
Getting her side of the story is important. It is also useful to gauge her reaction. If she is defensive or dismissive of your child’s concerns, you may need to escalate your complaint. If she acknowledges the issue, you are ready to look for some common ground.
Look for Common Ground
Whether or not your son’s teacher agrees with your son’s assessment, she should want him to feel safe in class. Talk with her about the things that concern your son, and determine how he can be reassured. Sometimes two different personalities clash, and that is fine. Making her aware of how your son feels allows her to respond in a way that allows him to feel safe.
Young children do not have a lot of experience with different people. If your son’s teacher has a very different personality than you, your spouse, and close relatives, he may feel insecure. Assure him that it is okay for the teacher to raise her voice or direct him to finish his work and stay seated. Her job is to maintain order and teach, but that doesn’t make her mean.
You may find that your son’s teacher is unpleasant, and it is not your son’s imagination. Maybe she is older and slightly burned out. Perhaps her class size is large, and it is hard to maintain order. Whatever the reason, some teachers are mean. If this happens to your son, taking the time to talk with her can still help. Knowing that other’s perceptions of her are unpleasant may encourage her to work toward a more peaceful demeanor.
Resist the Urge to Bad Mouth the Teacher
You may feel that your meeting with your son’s teacher was productive. You may also feel that it was a waste of time. Perhaps you’re cautiously optimistic. Regardless of how you feel, you should resist the urge to speak negatively about the teacher to your child. Doing so will undermine her authority and will not make your son’s life any more pleasant.
Talk to the Principal
If your son is still unhappy with his teacher, it may be time to get the principal involved. At this point, you may need to accept that your son and his teacher are just a bad match. Ask to have him switched to a different classroom. It is unlikely that the situation will improve even if the principal gets involved. As long as the teacher is doing her job, the principal will not and should not micromanage her behavior.