Child Caring

Teacher's comment packs a wallop, holiday version

Hi Barbara --

Every year, we have encouraged our kids, now 7 and 9, to cut out photos/pictures of what they want for Xmas and paste them into a notebook. It has become a project for them. They start early (Sept!), they have fun doing it, and then we go through it together to tell them what we think Santa can/can't afford/ what are appropriate items for them, etc etc. It spawns a lot of conversation about dollar values and play value and ethical values, all (of course!) at a level appropriate to their understanding. We even talk about what they got last year that turned out to be good choices and they go back and decorate the pages of the toys they liked and cross off the "bad" toys. My husband and I are proud of this. In fact, some friends have taken to emulating our example.

Here's the problem. My daughter took it into her 3d grade class. Much to my surprise, the teacher apparently mocked it. I don't know exactly what got said but from what I've been able to piece together, she must have said something about "choking a horse." My daughter didn't get the meaning, but I do.

You wrote a while ago about a mother who should clear the air for something the teacher said. I'm wondering if this falls into that category because I'm pretty aggravated although so far, holding my tongue.

From: Smalltown mom, Maryland

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Dear Smalltown mom,

As with the letter you reference, I wouldn't jump to too many conclusions about what the teacher said or about what your daughter reported back, although what she alleges the teacher to have said is pretty specific. It's very possible that without the adult explanation, the project came across as an overdose of materialism.

My answer is not to let this fester. Even tough you think you are holding your tongue, kids pick up on it when parents are unhappy with a teacher and that can affect a child's behavior in the classroom as well as her attitude toward learning. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that can have long-term ramifications.

I caution you to cool off, however, and not go in with a preconceived notion of what happened. While teachers have no business making judgmental comments that reflect badly on a child's family, even if it is over a child's head, neither do parents have any business making unfounded accusations.