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The complete question

As a parent, I feel like I know my child’s strengths and weaknesses better than her teacher. For example, my child is a very visual learner, yet her teacher rarely teaches to my daughter’s visual strength. What can I do to encourage my daughter’s teacher to teach to her strengths?

Expert answer

Talking to a teacher about his or her practice is a tricky issue indeed. The teacher may have more or less opportunity to tune teaching to individual students, depending on the number of kids in the class, whether there is a mandated set of lesson plans, and other issues. You haven’t mentioned your daughter’s age, but that is also an important factor. A first grade teacher is more likely to think that she should change her teaching style to accommodate your daughter, whereas a high school teacher may feel that your daughter is old enough to start learning to adjust to her teachers.

So, what should you say? If a teacher senses that a parent is trying to tell him or her how to teach, the conversation seldom goes well. Keep the focus on your daughter, and keep it specific. Describe what you see as aspects of the class with which your daughter is struggling. Invite the teacher’s opinion; that is, make it a two way conversation. Also, be open to ways that you can solve the problem with manageable changes your daughter might make. For example, if you think that the teacher talks too much and ought to write things on the board, could your daughter jot down instructions as she hears them?

A final thought. I would be open to the possibility that teachers may know things about our sons and daughters that we don’t, for the simple reason that children may act differently at school and at home. And while we, of course, know our children intimately, the teacher has had experience with scores or hundreds of children at that age.

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