It was reported by the U.S. Department of Education that many teachers say they don’t often receive information about problems at home from their student’s parents. I think many teachers, counselors, and administrators would agree. But, on the flip side, parents often report that they don’t know what the school expects from them, as parents. It’s a tough balance to know just what information to share with your child’s school and knowing when you may have over shared. In general, anything you can share, as a parent, helps schools become better prepared to meet your child’s specific needs. So the questions remains, when exactly do I contact the school about problems my child may be experiencing?
Getting Help from the School Counselor
School counselors can make an impact in every student’s life. Helping with anything from academic issues, to personal and social development. School counselors are there, not only to help your children, but often work as a facilitator between parents, teachers, and administrators concerning your child’s needs. I always tell the boys that I am their secret friend . . . the same goes for parents. Sometimes parents just need an outside perspective.
The American School Counselors Association (ASCA) recommends that you meet with your child’s school counselor at least 3 times a year (beginning, middle, and end of the year). This allows you the opportunity to have more eyes watching out for your child while he is at school. This is a very proactive approach. The more the teachers and school counselors know about what your child is experiencing the better prepared they are for recognizing specific moments when your child may need an extra bit of attention.
When you child is at school, his job is to learn. If something is going on that impedes his ability to learn, the school should know about it! As a parent, you always know your child best. However, the school counselor is there to be sure your child to in the classroom ready to learn. The school counselor can help parents better understand their child as a student. Your counselor often begins by evaluating your child’s needs by asking about their hopes and frustrations from the school year.
Even if problems are happening outside of school and your child is doing just fine academically, the school counselor can help you get in touch with resources around your community. There are dozens and dozens of resources in and out of school for your child. You are never alone in dealing with your child’s problems.
When you sit down with the school counselor, your head might be overwhelmed with the problem at hand. Take a step back and help yourself see your child from the school’s perspective by asking your child’s counselor these questions (these, again, came directly from ASCAs website, but are a GREAT resource):
• What are my child’s strengths and weaknesses?
• What could be my child’s goals for this year?
• What are some suggestions for action at home?
• What programs are available to help my child to do better?
• Does my child get along well with adults?
• Does my child get along well with his/her peers?
• What can I do to improve discipline at home?
• Are there ways I can improve communication with my child?
• What can I expect after a change in the family (death, divorce, illness, financial status, moving)?
• If my child is (running away from home, being disrespectful, having other problems), what should I do?
• What resources are available at school?
• What resources are available outside of school?
• What do I do? My child is (sad, not sleeping, not eating, overeating, has temper tantrums, etc.)
• What do I do if I don’t like my child’s friends?
If the counselor doesn’t know the answer to the above questions, she will now know your concerns and will actively help you seek out the answers you are looking for.
The most important thing I always wish I could tell parents . . .
When your child is at school, his job is to learn. If something is going on that impedes his ability to learn, the school should know about it!
I said it before and I would say it a million more times.
We are your partners. You are not alone. We want the best for your child, too. We want to see them grow up to be happy, confident, empathetic, gritty. We want the same things. Doesn’t it make sense to partner up?
So the answer?
Contact your school as soon as possible!
In my (very bias) opinion, it is better to have an early relationship with the school counselor. This way when you need her help, you will have NO hesitation in contacting her. She will already have background information on your child, which will make addressing the problem that much easier.
My challenge to you this week, as school begins. . . .set up a meeting with your child’s school counselor. If anything, meet her, introduce yourself, ask her about her qualifications, ask why she started doing what she is doing. Give some background about yourself, your child. Tell her his strengths, his weaknesses, his hopes, and fears. Get yourself comfortable with just another person at the school that will advocate for your child.