By Nancy Weinstein
As parents we really need to stop saying: the teacher, the curriculum, the lesson, or the test is bad. Really, we’ve just got to stop. The reality is that most teachers are highly competent. Most curricula are well-vetted and well-written. Most administrators put a lot of care into selecting the materials they believe will work best for their students. So don’t immediately assume the worst of our educators. Instead, consider starting with the assumption that the instruction is probably fine, but for whatever reason it is not working well for your child.
Believe me, I’m not suggesting that you allow your child to struggle or be bored without asking for accountability. Quite the contrary. I’m simply suggesting a shift in mindset. Complaining about the curriculum or teacher is generally not going to get you very far, even if your complaints are valid. Instead, focus on the one area that is your core area of expertise: your child. Understand what is not working for your child. Consider: Is the instruction moving too slowly? Too quickly? Does it require too many page flips for your child who struggles with working memory? Maybe the newest high-tech solution is great for some kids, just not yours. There are plenty of reasons instruction can work well for one child and not another.
Once you can describe your concern, or at least provide specific examples of the challenge, then it’s fair to go to the teacher and say “what can we do for my child.” Imagine the relief of the teacher who doesn’t need to address complaints about a curriculum over which he has no control. Or who doesn’t need to justify herself by explaining that others in the class don’t struggle. Next imagine, a wonderful teacher standing in front of you, someone who took this job because he wanted to make a difference in children’s lives. And imagine how empowered that teacher feels when you ask her how you can work together to support your child.
I created my business when I discovered that my very wonderful child was a very unconventional learner. And that she was a phenomenal thinker, but only when information was presented in a way that suited her. It was such an incredibly hard journey to figure out what she needed and yet so obvious when we understood her. I was determined to make it easier for other parents. So now, as the leader of Mindprint, I am more than a little passionate about changing how parents view “the system” when their child isn’t thriving. I know that parents can view the school and the teacher as a partner, not an adversary. I believe we can live in a world where a teacher can anticipate why any child might struggle at any point and have a specific solution at the ready. And even if that first solution doesn’t work, parent and teacher can work together with the specific data they need to help the one and only child in the class that the teacher is at liberty to discuss with you, the parent, who knows that child better than anyone in the world.
We made the following video to explain the process behind Mindprint Learning. And I invite you to visit our website for free resources and a full explanation of our cognitive assessment. If you’re ready to put it to use for your family, join us here. And if you have questions about any of what I’ve said, or comments of your own, please post below.