Teacher-related issues

My Child’s Teacher Seems to Ignore Her. What’s the Best Way to Handle That?

By Whitney Hollins

Help! My child’s teacher seems to be ignoring her. What can I do?

Whitney Hollins

Adjunct Instructor, Hunter College

If you feel like your child’s teacher isn’t giving her the attention she needs, there are a few things you can do.

The first thing is to speak to your child’s teacher directly. Don’t go straight to the principal. Write the teacher a note or email, asking to set up a time to meet. It’s important to make an appointment so the teacher can make time to talk to you without distractions.

When you talk with the teacher, explain your position without anger. Try to articulate the reasons you feel your child isn’t getting enough attention.

For example, did your child tell you she needs help that she isn’t getting? Do you see homework assignments that are unmarked? Did your child tell you about a specific incident that made you feel she’s being ignored?

Whatever the cause for concern, try to describe it to the teacher without being judgmental. Allow the teacher to respond. It’s possible the teacher isn’t aware your child has been feeling neglected. Opening the doors of communication can be the first step toward making progress.

After you talk to the teacher, hopefully the problem will be resolved. If it persists, make an appointment to speak with the principal.

During your meeting, tell the principal about the problem and why you feel the way you do. Give specifics about how you’ve tried to resolve these issues with your child’s teacher. Include the dates of the meetings you’ve had with the teacher as well the dates of important email exchanges.

The principal may want to have the teacher attend the meeting. If this is the case, remain as calm as possible and repeat your issue. The principal may ask the teacher to take specific steps to ensure that the issue is resolved.

Before the meeting ends, ask for a plan of action. This will help you know exactly what steps the school is planning to take to address the issue.

Another thing you can do is to arrange a classroom visit. Ask your child’s teacher and principal to set up a time for you to visit the classroom. This will give you a better idea of the classroom dynamics.

It’s also a chance to see how the teacher interacts with your child as well as all of the other students. After the visit, you can bring any concerns back to the teacher or principal.

If the problem continues, you can ask the principal to switch your child to another classroom. If the principal refuses, you can take the problem to your school district’s Board of Education. Be sure to include details on when you’ve met with the teacher and principal and make clear that you consider reaching out to the board a last resort.

Feeling neglected can cause kids to perform poorly in school, and it can affect their self-esteem. That’s why it’s important to speak up if you feel your child isn’t getting the attention she needs. Address the problem with the teacher first. But if that doesn’t work, remember you have other options.

You want your child to feel that her needs are being met in school. And communicating with the teacher is the first step.

Read about signs it’s time to talk with your child’s teacher. Get tips on explaining learning and attention issues to the teacher. Learn whether you can request a new teacher, and watch this short video on how to talk to the teacher about your child’s strengths.

About the Author

Portrait of Whitney Hollins

Whitney Hollins is a special education teacher and adjunct instructor at Hunter College.

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