When we usually talk to our children's teachers, we generally discuss their academic progress or school behaviors. Discussing your personal life is usually the last thing you plan on opening up about to a teacher.
Here's the problem: We don't communicate enough about things that may affect our children. According to a survey, there's a gap in crucial communication between parents and teachers - who are both vital to the growth and development of a child. "Teachers feel parents aren't telling them about the major changes in the home that affect the students in their classroom. Parents feel teachers don't share revealing details about their child's behavior at school."
We are tempted to think our "adult problems" don't affect our children, but that is simply not the case. Kids are perceptive. They notice our stress, our moods and changes in behaviors. Simply put: our lives affect their lives.
Here are four "D" words - life events - you need to discuss with your child's teacher.
If you and your spouse are going through a divorce or even a temporary separation, you should give your child's teacher a heads-up. Divorce is not something kids can understand easily. They may blame themselves or act out at school as they try to figure out how to deal with new and painful emotions.
If your child begins exhibiting out of the ordinary behaviors, his teacher will have a head start on knowing how best to help him. The teacher may be able to make classroom adjustments or recommend some time for him to talk to a guidance counselor at school to talk about or sort through his feelings.
The death of a grandparent, aunt, uncle, parent, sibling or pet can temporarily affect your child's mood, temperament and behavior. This is another time her teacher should know what has happened so she can be mindful and allow your daughter time to heal.
If someone at home is suffering from a terrible disease such as cancer, it's a good idea to let the teacher know. Such diseases can be confusing and cause extra worry and fears about death for children. Added sensitivity and gentleness toward the child in the classroom can make a big difference.
It's important for a teacher to know if a child or family member is experiencing depression. If it's the child who is suffering, the teacher may need to watch for warning signs or other worrisome symptoms that may arise or change throughout the school year. Additionally, if a parent suffers from depression, this can cause an elevated stress level for the child.
Divorce, death, disease and depression are four major areas you should discuss with your child's teacher if they are things your family is working through. Also, consider telling the teacher about any other event or situation in your family that may have an effect on your child's ability to learn or behave normally. Children are still learning how to deal with emotions and stresses of life. They may not be able to yet fully understand what is going on or how to properly deal with hard circumstances.
Even if you think it's not affecting your child, it probably is. Each kid will process situations differently, and some may require extra guidance, love and support. Allowing teachers to know what is happening in your family can make a hard situation a little easier for your child because the teacher will understand where the behaviors are coming from. Simply put, what's happening at home can, and will, spill over into what's happening at school.