In a worst case scenario, where separation is inevitable for you and your partner, should you tell your child's teacher about it? A recent study says you should.
Teachers want to know about family issues to better tend to the needs of the child when he’s at school, especially if it has the potential to hugely affect the behavior of your child. Issues like parents’ separation, death or illness in the family are life-changing events. Teachers consider the emotional baggage that come with these events as barriers to learning, according to the study.
Conducted by VitalSmart, bestselling authors of the Crucial Conversations series Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield co-authored the study. It involved collecting data from a little under 700 parents and nearly 200 teachers.
“When life-altering events occur in the home that have potential to affect a child’s behavior and performance in the classroom, parents fail to share this information with the teachers who are trying to help their child succeed,” says Maxfield.
Here’s an anecdote from one of the teacher-participants: A fifth grader’s family was awakened by a SWAT team that held them at gunpoint and arrested the father on drug-related charges. The mother then sent her child to school without a chance to tell the teacher, who heard it later on the news. “I would have liked to have been told,” said the teacher. “This fifth grader had behavior issues, and by knowing about the incident immediately I could have helped him at school.”
Results from the study show that:
93% of teachers want to know about major illness or accident in the family. Only 21% of parents inform them when this happens.
89% of teachers want to know about death in the family. Only 26% of parents inform them.
89% of teachers want to know about a child’s depression or mood changes. Only 27% of parents inform them.
Researchers suspect that the poor communication was due to a lack of an established relationship between parent and teacher. “They’re not even thinking of the teacher —- or they’re thinking of the teacher as some small part of the child’s life who is providing a service, much like a plumber provides a service,” Maxfield told Yahoo.
This is why parent-teacher conferences are important. Here, parents can establish a relationship with their child’s teacher and at the same time ask the teacher about their child.
According to Therese Pelias, a professor from the Miriam College of Child Development and Education, parents and teachers are partners in a child’s development. “Parent-Teacher Conferences are good opportunities to maximize this partnership.”
Sources: Aug. 26, 2015. "Silence at School: Parents Fail to Communicate Life Altering Events That Affect Student Performance". vitalsmarts.com Aug. 27, 2015. "Tell Teachers About Problems at Home — or Impede Your Child’s Success". yahoo.com