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To make a long story short- I babysit 2-3 times a week for my DH's great-niece. She is 5 and just started K. Her parents have no interest in her education and quite frankly not a whole lot of interest in her in general. I feel like I am the only one who cares about how she is doing right now. She is reacting the way you would expect a child who is almost constantly ignored to react- she is mean, violent and not a whole lot of fun to be around. She was kicked out of headstart last year because of her behavior. I feel so sorry for her because she didn't have much of a chance. Here is my question- How much should I as her great aunt/part time babysitter expect to be able to interact with her teacher? Would it be stepping over the line to request email updates on how she is doing so I will know what I can help her with when she is at my house? I will check her bookbag on the days that I have her to try to stay up on what is going on, but would it be o.k. to contact the teacher via email? Are there rules as to who you as teachers can give info to? I don't want to put her teacher in an awkward position but at the same time I doudt that either of her parents even check her bookbag. They did not take her to her icecream social before school and got to the orientation to meet her teacher 40 minutes late for a 45 min. meeting. They didn't know what time she got out of school or where to pick her up from the first day! I have started a behavior chart for her to try to get her in a better position to succeed but am not sure what would be the best approach for a child in this situation other than lots of positive reinforcement. Any other suggestions/help would be greatly appreciated.
I have been HO,HO,HOED thanks, JMAC
As a h/s teacher I have no restrictions on who I give info out to (offically there is not rule but morally I try to deal only with guardians and officals) HOWEVER I think it would be a good idea to ge the parents promission to be in contact with the teacher. If they give it send a letter of introduction to the teacher.
If they don't give it make sure you have an open dialogue with your neice. Have her show you stuff in her bookbag or look through and ask her about stuff. If there is a worksheet that is not filled out ask her about it and whether or not she needs to do it at home. As a parent I would love if my sitter helped get the homework process started.
I think you should contact the principal about the school's policy on parent/teacher relationships. When I was teaching, I wasn't allowed to talk to anyone other than the person named as the child's official guardian (and sometimes that included one parent but not the other!). It really depends on the school...they're all different. I hope you're able to get some feedback from the teacher. Sounds like that's this poor kid's only hope.
First of all, BLESS YOU!! I wish there were more caring relative out there just like you. Here are my recommendations:
1. As twinmom suggested, see if you can obtain written permission from the child's parent that allows you to contact the teacher in any way (phone, email, conference) in order to ask questions and get information that will further the education of the child.
2. Give a copy of the written permission note to both the administrator and the teacher.
3. Once given permission, be in contact with the teacher (don't forget teachers of special classes like music, art, p.e.) on a weekly basis. You may even conference with the teacher about making a "take home folder" in which the teacher signs daily with a brief note on the child's behavior and homework. I have done this with many students. I will jot down at the end of the day something like, "Great day! Was kind to others. Read aloud 10 minutes for homework." or "We had a rough day today. (Child) chose to distract other students during seat work when repeatedly asked to stop. Math Worksheet 88 homework" In turn, you jot down your note back to the teacher letting her know what disciplinary actions were taken at home. For instance, "I am sorry to hear she had a rough day. She lost two stickers on her behavior chart at home. She had 5 minutes in time out. If it happens again, please let me know. We discussed with her that next time will be two swats." (if you agree with light swats)
4. Keep up your behavior chart. Remember: CONSISTENCY IS KEY!! Once you have given her "the rules" for the chart. This should include behaviors you are looking for and what the consequences are if she breaks the rules. Consequences should be VERY SPECIFIC. For example, instead of "you will be in big trouble", try "you will sit in time out for 5 minutes". Then stick to it!! This cuts down on arguments when misbehavior does occur. Also, in "the rules" discuss what she can do to earn stickers. For example, "when your teacher sends home a good note in your take home folder, you will get 1 sticker" and "when you pick up your toys without complaining you get 1 sticker". Tell her exactly what her stickers will earn. For example, "after you have earned 5 stickers, you can have a snowcone." Start small and work your way up to big. 5 is a good starting place. Eventually she will be able to earn 10-15 before being rewarded. Just be consistent!
Well, thanks for reading this looooong post. I guess I got a little long winded. I probably posted lots of things you are already doing, but I thought it wouldn't hurt to add them. I hope you can find something here that works. Every child is different. Best wishes and let us know how it goes!
We love you Angel Baby...snuggled in His arms at 14weeks
Leslee did a wonderful job of suggesting what to do. In Texas, we are not allowed to give information out to anyone besides the guardians & other adults stated on their enrollment card. If you are picking her up from school then you will probably run into the teacher at some point. She is most likely going to tell you if there are any problems so that you can relay the message to the parents but for the email updates, I would def talk to the parents prior to doing this.