I have always said that I do not believe there are bad children. I believe that children make bad choices. I do feel that with those bad choices should result in consequences for the child. When children are making bad choices in school, there needs to be some form of punishment. Now, this blog is not about what is age appropriate consequences, or even about a school discipline policy. I going to address the parent impact, and the role the school plays communicating with the parent. I’m not writing to make parents feel like their child is bad.
I have been reflecting on the practices of school discipline and issuing consequences at my school. Lately, the concerned looks on parents’ faces has me wondering. We are typically calling about the same children daily. I cannot imagine yet what the parents go through every day when they get a call about their child. If this piece was about discipline or consequence, I would tell you how sometimes I feel like we shouldn’t call the parents unless it is really bad, but at the same time, the parent may be the only one who can intervene before the behavior increases.
There are some truths in how parents feel about how the school messages the behavior of their children. I know in cases when we pile on daily the bad choices of the child the parents feel like their child is the biggest trouble maker in the school. I know parents feel as though this school does not care anything about their child. We must do better at school. We have to do better as a school. No parents should walk into a school and feel as though their child is bad. No parent should walk into the classroom and feel as though their child is bad. No parent shall see the phone number from the school and assume it is a call because their child is in trouble.
Personally, the parents of two scholars instantly come to my mind. They come to mind because I see fustration in their eyes when they come into the school. I hear it in the tone of their voice when we call.
Student 1: She is a second grade student and every day we do this roundabout in the morning during breakfast. She never wants to sit in her seat. She always wants to yell across the table. She wants to run in and out of the cafeteria. When you tell her she can’t do something, she gets upset and throws a fit. Again, not a bad child but she makes really bad choices, especially in the morning. We open the school doors for breakfast at 7:00 and just about every morning we are calling mom because she isn’t listening. I know mom is tired of the calls because who wants to get calls at their job about their child. I know she feels as though we think her child is bad because she said to me while we are on the phone. “Y’all call me every day about her. I don’t know what to do about her; she is just horrible.” She goes on and on about her child and I listening thinking like, did we do this? Did we put these thoughts in her head? We must have because the daily calls about her behavior must make her feel as though her child is bad.
Student 2: He is in kindergarten. Instantly, I know many of you are thinking, “a kindergartener? Aren’t they only like five – maybe six years old?” I know you are asking why we call home about a kindergartener. Again, this blog is not about the discipline of a kindergartener; however, I do encourage you to be on the lookout for my piece, “Should Kindergartners Be Suspended from School? “We call pretty regularly about this student as well. Now, academically the student has no issues in school. He does the work. He is on grade level; he can do the task that we ask of him like a kindergartner. He does make bad choices which results in the school issuing consequences. His parents are getting frustrated because of the calls. Again, like the previous mother, they do not know what to do and think something is wrong with their child. Still, I do not believe there is anything wrong with him. He makes bad choices, and with those bad choices, we have to call.
I never want any of the parents in my school to feel as though their child is bad. I hope that those feelings are not a result of how the school has made them feel. That is not our goal nor our intention. As a school, we should make parents feel like a partner in finding solutions to help the child make smarter choices. Schools have to evaluate their approach and ensure that we do not come off as judgmental or pushing the blame on the parents. We have to as a make sure we do not make parents feel like their child is bad.