One of the hardest things when you have kids in school is when your kid just doesn’t like the teacher. It’s a daunting prospect, especially at the start of a school year. Your child can feel overwhelmed, sad, frustrated and downright scared. I’m a mum of two school kids, so I can totally relate.
I’m also an ex-teacher, so I want to help you make the best of the situation. It’s certainly harder when a primary student doesn’t like the teacher, when they only have one, but they can still have a good year.
This might help too: The anxious mum’s guide to back to school
Why kids don’t like their teacher
A kid can feel like they don’t like the teacher for a number of reasons:
• Preconceived ideas of the teacher. This can sometimes can last the whole school year, no matter what a teacher does. Rumours about what teachers are ‘like’ are often passed on by other kids who didn’t like the teacher either.
• Not their preference. The child really wanted another teacher who they didn’t end up with. This was my son at the start of this year, but now he’s super happy with the teacher he has.
• Poor first impression. Maybe the teacher came in shouting on the first day. Maybe they were having a bad day and were less tolerant of classroom behaviour. There are plenty of reasons why a teacher might not appear great to start with.
• Something specific. Your child might have started out liking their teacher, but no longer does. Perhaps they feel unfairly treated by the teacher. Or feel the teacher has favourites. Or they simply don’t like the teaching style.
Making the best of the situation.
Unless the teacher is in breach of ethics, rules or, let’s hope not, laws, your child does need to try and make the best of the situation. We can’t let one teacher negatively impact on a child’s education and view of the school and their learning. There are other good reasons to learn to tolerate the situation:
• It’s good for them to realise that not everyone in the world gets along, and the same can be said for teacher-student relationships.
• It’s helpful for kids to learn to endure things they might not necessarily like.
• It’s good for kids to learn how to get along with people they might not necessarily like.
• A year of school, though it seems long at the start of the year is really only 40 weeks, 200 days. It’s really a small blip on a kid’s school radar.
Read this too: What makes kids happy at school
A teacher’s perspective
I’ve had kids say to me “Don’t you like me, Miss?”, but I’m not lying when I say I’ve liked every student I’ve taught. Even the most difficult kids have redeeming features. I have never really come across a child that I couldn’t like for some reason. So it’s doubtful that your child’s teacher ‘doesn’t like’ your kid back.
Regardless, a teacher has a job to do and that is to teach every student within my classroom to the best of my ability. That means putting personal differences aside, so liking or not liking isn’t really an issue.
I’m not lying when I say I’ve liked every student I’ve taught. Even the most difficult kids have redeeming features.
When I taught in London many years ago, there was a child in my class who repeatedly told me “My mum doesn’t like you, she thinks you are a bad teacher”. But I harboured no bad feelings for that kid, instead, I went about my daily teaching and just ignored the comments. It wasn’t worth worrying about for me.
10 ways to support you child
Here are some practical things you can do to help when your child doesn’t like the teacher:
• Find out why they don’t like the teacher. Ask them to explain their reasoning. Often when they realise they can’t explain it, it becomes less of an issue. If they have good reasons for their dislike, work out whether you feel their concerns need to be escalated.
• Explain to them that you won’t like everyone you come across in life. Sometimes you will have to learn from/ work with/ be around people you don’t like. You need to make the best of the situation. This might involve taking a ‘head down, bum up’ approach for the year. They don’t have to engage with the class, but they do have to quietly do their best.
• Help them see the teacher’s perspective. It’s hard for kids to put themselves in others’ shoes. Talk to them about why they think the teacher is the way they are. Explain that ‘being too strict’ isn’t outside of a teacher’s job description. Talk about different learning and teaching styles.
• Rise above it. A great strategy for life is to ‘kill ’em with kindness’. Challenge your child to be the most helpful, best behaved, hard-working student the teacher has ever had. It will be a ‘win’ for the teacher, but it will be even more of a win for your student.
• Unpack the feelings. Ask your kid to note down concrete examples of behaviour they don’t like. Together, you might be able to find perspective. Or you will have some examples if there is a reason to escalate your child’s concerns.
A great strategy for life is to ‘kill ’em with kindness’. Challenge your child to be the most helpful, best behaved, hard-working student the teacher has ever had.
• Have a meeting with the teacher. This is especially important if there are genuine reasons for your child’s concerns. The first port of call is to talk to the teacher about things. If your child is willing, maybe they can find some common ground that will help to move the relationship forward.
• Look out for key issues. If it’s a one-off event that has caused the situation, then often unpacking it together with all parties involved will help. If the issues are on-going, talk to the teacher and escalate if necessary.
• Keep checking in. The ‘I hate my teacher’ blues will flare up from time to time. When your child is in the middle of a hate session, it’s very difficult to talk to them objectively. Instead, catch them when things have calmed down a little. They are more likely to find some good things to say, reinforcing that every teacher isn’t all doom and gloom.
• Make sure they have plenty of homework help. Help your child meet teacher expectations by giving them as much support as necessary at home.
• Give them something to look forward to. School terms feel long ( and sometimes are – 11 weeks in term one this year in NSW). Often what seems terrible now will be a lot better after a break. Remember that everyone feels better after a holiday.
It’s probably not going to be your kid’s favourite school year, but it just might be their most beneficial. Learning to endure, getting along with difficult people, enhanced grit, increased resilience and better tolerance are just some of the take-aways from a tough school year.
Has your child ever not liked a teacher?
My dad used to make a seriously tasty rissole, so I grew up munching into yummy, flavourful beef dinners. These days, I’ve taken over this last bastion of cheap eats and made it tastier, yummier and veggie smuggling. These are my amazingly tasty rissoles!
I discussed this tasty rissole recipe with my daughter on the way home from dancing and she said, “I might eat them. I’ll try them.” “Might” and “try” are wins in my book. Anything we can get the kids to have go of is a win, right? Well, she tried them and she didn’t just “might” like them, instead she declared them to be really yummy.
Even my 5-year-old, who can be quite the fusspot loves them, so they are going to be on regular rotation on our dinner menu.
Try this for dinner too: Oyakodon
Not only does adding zucchini and cheese into the mix makes these tasty rissoles more nutritious, it also helps with binding. And more veggies means you can make more too. So a super cheap meal becomes even cheaper.
If you are using fresh mince you can freeze these raw, so you have another meal of tasty rissoles or even burgers (just make each patty a bit bigger, squash flat and watch your cooking time). Either way, you need to be sure when working with mince that they are cooked through. I’ve used beef mince for this recipe, but you can make tasty rissoles using pork, chicken or turkey mince too.
A tip for forming rissoles: it will make them tons easier if you keep your hands wet. The meat mix sticks to your hands far less, making it easier to roll and shape your patties and put them onto the baking tray.
Makes 16 mini rissoles
Takes 5 mins
Bakes 20 mins
• 1 ½ kgs beef mince
• 1 zucchini, grated
• 1 tsp mixed herbs
• 1 tsp sweet paprika
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten
• ½ cup cheese
• ½ cup bread crumbs
• olive oil for frying
In a large bowl, combine the mince, eggs, zucchini, cheese, bread crumbs and herbs.
With wet hands, form into 16 even sized balls and lay on an oven tray lined with baking paper.
Sprinkle with a little olive oil then bake for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through.
You can also cook fry these in batches in a little olive oil until cooked through. Or cook them on the barbie (the cleanest option!).
What’s on the menu tonight?
As an ex-teacher, I’m constantly surprised how many parents don’t read school reports with their kids! If you knew how much blood, sweat, tears and effort goes into putting those reports together… More than that, reports are prepared by teachers not just to give parents an overview, but also to highlight areas where kids can improve. So it makes sense to sit down together and go through the report with your child.
I think times have changed, and it’s so important to understand that school reports are written in a different way to when we were at school. They are written to show where your child is at academically and socially; to highlight areas they can improve on; and to celebrate their wins. Not only are they written with these things in mind, they are done with one sole purpose: to help you to help your child achieve!
So let’s look at my top tips for school report reading with your child.
Top tips for reading school reports with your child
1. Read it once by yourself first.
I do this to get an overview so I can frame appropriate questions and understand what things mean before we go over the report together. It’s kind of like studying for a test! Plus, the school report is generally addressed to the parents and I’d like to think my kids aren’t in the habit of opening my mail!
2. Set aside time to do it.
This isn’t a 5 minute cursory job and the report needs to be given the right amount of time and energy. It show that you value both your children’s efforts at school and the teachers’ efforts in creating the report. It also gives you both more time to discuss and implement what’s in the report.
3. Try the “shit sandwich” approach.
Start with a good grade, then read the not so good and follow up with the really awesome one (this is where your pre-reading comes in). So if they have done well in History, fantastically in English but not quite as well in Maths, you’ll be looking at History, Maths and ending on English.
4. Focus on effort.
Grades are great, but effort is most important. If your kid pulls a C for effort and an A for their grade, it’s a different conversation entirely for an A for effort, C for grade. Effort is something tangible that your child can focus on for both improvement improvement, and also for feeling good about how they’ve been tracking. Talk about what an “A for effort” looks like and ask your child for ideas of what they can work harder on.
5. Sparkle up the good bits.
Grab a sheet of paper and write out all the good points together in big bold words. Make them bright and colourful. These are awesome for looking back on later. They help kids to see the things they are successful at without all the noise.
Here’s how to get more good bits: 21+ tips from teachers to get organised at high school
6. Take notes and strategise on what needs work.
Write the things that need work as goals on another piece of paper – these can form the basis of the things that need a bit more effort. Work out together where the pain points are and discuss how your kid can leap the hurdles. Set a goal for achieving by the next school report.
7. Talk up how awesome your kid is.
Read the “personality” section and pick out all the positive adjectives. Ask your child for some examples of why their teacher might think of them so highly, and give your own examples to back up what the teacher is saying. This is an especially great approach for kids who struggle academically, as sometimes there’s not a lot of positives to pull out of the grades. If kids have trouble with self-esteem and self-worth, this exercise helps them see themselves how other people see them.
8. Go over the report with the teacher
At one school that I worked in, the kids brought in their reports and they read them through with their teacher. This helped the kids better understand the school report and ask questions about what they need to do to improve. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your child’s teacher/s if there is something in the report that is ambiguous or written in too much “reportese”, as it helps the teacher to make changes too.
Just in case:How to avoid toxic disputes between parents and teachers
9. Celebrate a good report
Great effort, grades and comments deserve a celebration. A simple posting of the report card on the fridge for all to see, or sending a copy to grandparents for some extra praise, work well. Other things you might like to do are:
• Head out to a family dinner out at your kid’s favourite place
• Take a special shopping trip with some extra pocket money to spend
• Bake a fancy cake together to celebrate
• A sleepover with a couple of friends
• Extra screen time in the school holidays
• A book makes a great present to say well done
Spending time to read the school report with your kids allows them to see firsthand what they are doing right and what they can improve on. It helps them to develop a sense of what the expectations are and how they can meet them.
Reports aside, the end of a semester is a celebration- whether it is the halfway point or the end of year, so make sure to celebrate the achievements of your kids and help them to be ready for a positive start to the semester ahead.
Do you have any rituals around report time?
Image by pan xiaozhen
These homemade fish fingers are nothing like the frozen fish fingers that I grew up with. They are crunchy and full of flavour, not soggy and bland. They actually taste and look like fish.
Homemade fish fingers are such a good starting point for kids who won’t try fish. The crumb makes the fish more friendly looking and helps to disguise that ‘fishy smell’ that some kids are put off by. Really, if you need too, you could cut these into a nugget-shape and serve them up as chicken!
Try this recipe too: Chicken and veggie parma balls
Choose and strong white fish that will flake and that can be cut into strips without breaking up. I used hoki for these fish fingers, and it tasted awesome. Other fish varieties that hold up well include Mahi Mahi, Blue-eye Trevalla, Dory and Ling.
To get a lovely golden colour, I’ve used polenta instead of bread crumbs. It gives the homemade fish fingers the bright yellow colour the kids’ associate with store-bought fish fingers. When the polenta is added to the panko, it gives the fish a lovely golden colour and adds to the crunch as well.
Homemade fish fingers
Makes 16 fish fingers
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
400 grams hoki fillets, cut into strips for fish fingers
1 cup plain flour
1 egg, whisked with ½ cup water
1 cup panko
1 cup polenta
olive oil for drizzling
Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper.
Mix the panko and polenta together in a bowl.
First coat the fish in flour (I do this in a ziploc bag, just pop it in and shake).
Dip each strip individually in the egg and water mix then coat in the panko polenta mix.
Place each strip on the oven tray, then drizzle with olive oil and bake for 30 minutes at 180ºC.
Serve with a salad and some oven baked sweet potato chips.
Did you like fish fingers growing up?