Who can I call at my child’s school?


A comment  I often hear from parents at the end of Term 2, when they receive their child’s Semester 1 report a is “I never knew that my child was having difficulties in …., why hasn’t the teacher called me?” Another frequent comment, especially from parents with children who have additional needs is “Who can I talk to, nobody seems to be listening to me?’Who will listen to me at my child’s school?
Sometimes parents view schools as a minefield. There are so many people and it’s difficult to know who is the right person to speak to first. As an Educational and Developmental Psychologist working in Sydney schools, I meet with parents who face this dilemma every day. This summary will hopefully give you an accurate ‘Where to next…? guide to the support that is available at your child’s school.Before you attend a meeting at school…
To ensure any meeting with a school professional is productive and your concerns are heard, there are three points I recommend that you remember.

  1. Be honest with yourself about your child. Try to be as factual as possible, rather than emotional. (It’s hard I know!)
  2. Write a comprehensive list of your concerns and be prepared to take notes.
  3. If possible, make sure that both parents should attend the meeting.

Hint 1 – The most important connection to make
The most important professional to make a connection with at school is with your child’s classroom teacher.  Many parents often say to me ‘Mrs Teacher is always so busy in the afternoons’, or  ‘My child’s problems are not that bad.’ I say to any parent… You are your child’s advocate. Trust your instinct and make an appointment today to discuss your child’s needs.

Hint 2 – Who else can help?
If your child has academic, behavioural, social or emotional concerns, there are other staff members in the school that you can contact. You’ll need to make an appointment because sometimes these staff are not on-site every day, but usually a meeting can be organised quickly so that you get a child to discuss your child’s needs. Ask to speak with:

a)      The School Counsellor, who is available to have a private and confidential
meeting to discuss your child’s concerns.  The School Counsellor is a registered
psychologist who can conduct psychometric, academic and behavioural
assessments. The School Counsellor will also be aware of support services that
are available in your local area.

b)      The Learning Support Team Co-ordinator, who is an excellent person to
discuss your child’s academic and behavioural concerns with. The Learning
Support Team Co-ordinator works closely with classroom teachers and has
experience in assisting children and families with additional learning needs.

c)       The Support Teacher Learning Assistance (STLA) or the Learning and
Support Teacher
(LaST) who are teaching professionals with special needs
qualifications. These highly qualified teachers can find ways to help your child
both in the playground and classroom.

Hint 3 – Don’t be afraid to take it further
If you are concerned that the meeting with your child’s teacher and the recommended follow-up did not meet your expectations, you are most welcome to make an appointment with the teacher’s supervisor or the school principal. At this point in time, it may be worthwhile to have a case conference with all professionals involved with your child to discuss the way forward.

Finally, remember the home school relationship is a partnership.  Working together with the staff at your school will help your child flourish and fulfill their academic and social potential.

Karen Spitzer
Educational & Developmental Psychologist
© Kids First Children’s Services 2014

Need advice to better manage your next school meeting?
Kids First’s experienced Child Psychologists have years of experience supporting children, parents and teachers in Sydney schools. In a confidential and caring conversation with a member of our team, you can gain clarity, advice and guidance about how to connect better with your child’s teacher and school.Contact Kids First today to make an appointment. Call (02) 9938 5419 or email us and we will contact you.

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