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If your child is having problems at school, how do you communicate effectively and make sure issues are resolved before they get out of hand?

“If your child has a problem, make sure you speak to the teacher involved first,” said Norma Mertz, department head of educational leadership and policy studies at UT’s College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences. “Only go to the principal if the problem cannot be resolved with the teacher.”

Mertz offers five tips for parents on how to talk to your child’s principal:

Make an appointment. Don’t try to talk with them on the run. At the beginning of the conversation, remember to explain who your child is and whose classroom he or she is in.

Be specific. Give details about the problem as you see it and what it is you hope to have happen as a result of the meeting.

Remain calm. The best strategy when talking to either the teacher or principal is to remain calm, listen to the answers you get, and offer your own proposals courteously.

Don’t make excuses. If you are trying to be an advocate for your child, it is important to be honest with everyone involved. Don’t make excuses for your child.

Ask for help. Ask the principal about enrichment opportunities that are available for students outside of class, and how you can help and support your child at home.

“It’s never easy when a child is having problems at school, but good communication is the first step to finding a solution,” said Mertz.


Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,