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Back To School: 4 Tips for Talking to Teachers – A Guest Post by Montreal Mom Amy Fish

Back to school is such a busy time of year for us Moms.

We need to help the kids label each pen, pencil and piece of Kleenex.

We need to find last year’s gym uniform and pretend that it still fits.

We need to call the teachers and have long winded discussions about the new history curriculum.

Or do we?

Parent-teacher communication is one area where maybe we work harder than we have to. Here are a few tips for simplifying conversation with teachers:

  1. Safety First: For allergies, epi-pens and medication, be as concrete as possible. Tell the teacher exactly what to do on a daily basis and in case of emergency. If possible, give the information in writing too, so they can refer back to it. Resist the urge to give detailed back story (e.g., three years ago, we first noticed …) The clearest message uses the fewest words. Trust me.
  1. Pearly Preferences: It’s so tempting to let the teacher know that your kid isn’t one for morning snack or that he loves reading more than math. While you treasure every pearl that spills from your child’s mouth, the teacher may have twenty other oysters, I mean, children, to contend with. Let the teacher and your child get to know each other slowly. Plus, your child might welcome the chance to try something new if they haven’t been pigeonholed as someone who “avoids gym” or “hates times tables.”
  1. Advocacy Lessons: If your kid comes home with a teacher complaint – let’s say, too much homework – encourage him or her to speak to the teacher directly before you get involved. Help your child make a list of possible points for discussion (e.g., starting homework during class time, less homework on the weekends) and let your child rehearse. Chances are the teacher will be willing to listen to a calm, rational student with a few good arguments.
  1. Listen, Listen, Listen: If the teacher or anyone from the school calls with a problem regarding your child, hang up immediately and pretend they have the wrong number. (Just kidding. They will find you. Or so I hear.) If that call comes in, listen to what they are saying and if possible take notes. Ask lots of questions and try and get as much information about the specific incident as possible. Then, at the end, ask them if there is anything they need you to do RIGHT AWAY. If yes, then follow their instructions. If not, you can answer something like “You have given me a lot to think about. Is it ok if I call you tomorrow?” Remember – you are under no obligation to react immediately. Take time to digest all the information and collect all the facts before you respond.

In conclusion, dealing with teachers and school administration is necessary but doesn’t need to be so intense.

I hope these tips can help make your life easier.

And if you find an extra size 10 gym uniform – will you please give me a call?



Amy Fish is a Canadian who writes about complaining. She is the author of the Non Fiction book The Art of Complaining Effectively . Amy has been interviewed on national and local television and radio as a complaints expert, and as a writer. Her work has been published in  Reader’s Digest and the Globe and Mail (Canada’s national newspaper) and she has won writing prizes from both Writer’s Digest and the Quebec Writer’s Federation. Amy loves to spread the gospel of complaining effectively and has appeared as a keynote speaker at conferences, professional meetings and garage door openings. She is also working on a fiction project which is currently on submission. Cross your fingers. Check her out at

All opinions expressed by Amy Fish on this website are solely her opinions and do not necessary reflect the opinions of, its founder or its affiliates, and may have been previously disseminated by Amy on television, radio, internet or another medium. 

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