Does your child have behavioral problems at school? Use this step-by-step guide – from setting up a thinking session with school to monitoring progress and resolving deadlocks – to address and correct behaviors that interfere with your child’s education.
The school may have ideas for establishing adequate behavior for your child. But that is not enough. To truly and effectively help a child with behavioral problems at school, you need to teach them new skills to reduce disruptive behavior.
Parents play an important role in initiating conversations and problem-solving processes.
Below you can find a step-by-step guide for working with educators to improve your child’s behavior in the classroom.
Step 1: Connect with the school
• Assume this is not the first time you have received a call about your child’s misbehavior at school. Schools often contact parents only after they notice a pattern of behavior. This does not mean that your child shows these behaviors every day, or every time with the same intensity.
• Request a meeting with the teacher to investigate what is really going on. Ideally, a meeting should be held within a week of the incident. Apply by email; written records are important.
• If your child is attending an Individual Development Plan school, invite a case manager, other teachers who encounter challenging behavior, and anyone else who can provide valuable insights into your child’s behavior, such as a therapist.
• Avoid troubleshooting via email or phone. It is almost impossible to do it effectively. In addition, you and the school will need time to gather questions and information.
Step 2: Prepare for the meeting
Set an agenda
It often happens that an adequate meeting plan is neglected. It is important to point out that they do not provide structure and give parents some control over the discussion. Create and deliver the agenda via email to the school team when the date and time of the meeting is set.
Remember that the point of the meeting is not to hear how difficult your child is, but to talk about what the teachers noticed and share ideas for progress. Parents should not listen passively with minimal participation. What the school has to say is important, but you can offer a lot in the process.
Step 3: Meeting day
Save the questions
These questions provide clear answers that allow the school to move beyond general behavioral solutions and develop individualized solutions for your child.
1. Can you tell me a little more about my child’s behavior? Describe the latest incident.
2. What do you expect them to do during the incident? The answer will give you a sense of expectations in the classroom and your child’s ability to fulfill them (or not).
3. Can you give more context around these behaviors? Time of day, how is the classroom set up (Did the incident happen during lectures or independent work? In small or large groups? What else happens in the classroom?) Who is nearby when the behavior occurs?
4. What happens immediately after such behavior? How do teachers and peers react? Is there a change in the environment? Is your child being sent to the hallway or to the principal’s office?
5. What is likely to worsen the behavior?
6. What do you think would improve behavior? Here’s an opportunity to jump in and suggest ideas.
Finally, strategically start a conversation about what teachers plan to do next. What are the steps? Remember that this plan is not a behavioral intervention plan, individual development plan, or any other formal system, but an opportunity to test strategies for working together to address your child’s behavior at school.
Your communication with the school can be daily, weekly, biweekly or as needed (and in any way, by phone, mail, in person) to discuss your child’s progress and whether the plan and strategies are working. The more you communicate with the school, the better the results will be for your child.
Most schools will have a communication diary to monitor behavior (including the use of new skills throughout the day) and provide feedback on progress.
Step 4: Trial steps and troubleshooting
The school should implement an action plan for a few weeks, monitor progress, and then meet with you again to discuss the next steps.
But what if these plans and strategies don’t work? Or what if the team can’t agree on strategies at all? What if your child’s behavior is so disruptive that no step is possible?
Whatever the outcome, continue to communicate with the school about your child’s behavior, needs, and progress. Seek professional help from the side if necessary.
Read the full guide HERE