Articles, Literacy

Don’t badmouth your child’s teacher or school if you want your child to value education.

Two young girls study English at a table because they value their education.

Experienced teachers share things parents should do to set their kids up for success – Part 2 of 10

Today I want to discuss why you should always speak positively about your child’s teachers, the school they attend and the education system, despite what you REALLY think. Today’s children need to value their education more than ever in order to improve their chances of success in such a competitive world. However, significant adults in the lives of children might be hindering them more than helping.

Complaining has become a national sport.

South Africans have a tendency to be very negative and critical these days, often with good reason. Weekend after weekend we sit around our braais, with our families and friends, and furiously complain about the lack of service delivery, the increase in crime & corruption, the state of local municipalities, the desperate state of our education system, potholes that are so prolific that people put pot plants in them as a warning, the dropping of educational standards, how there is no value in today’s education, how inept, pathetic, lazy, worthless and over paid teachers are – and on and on it goes. All of this takes place within earshot of the children. Some can sing this song better than our own national anthem.

I once sat in a beauty salon listening to a woman and her daughter bore the poor childless manicurist to death, for TWO hours, with complaints about her child’s teacher and school. It was apparent that she saw no value in her child’s education, despite the fact that her child was at what is generally known to be a good school. In the name of self-preservation, I shuffled off before my nails were dry, and went and bought a teacher a gift.

Children are sponges and will spill the beans

Children listen to and absorb everything we say, especially when it has anything to do with school life, juicy details about teachers or themselves. Not much has changed since we were growing up.

Let’s be fair, children do not always know what is okay to share and what is not. In the same way that teachers get to hear about your marital problems, botox injections, drunk driving and financial woes, they also get to hear what you say about them. Teachers overhear children telling their friends what their dad said about Miss G last night. Sometimes, what you say gets flung at at their teachers angrily, as an excuse or as a threat. It is apparent that what they are overhearing is damaging to the teacher-child relationship. Let’s face it, it is very hard for your child to behave respectfully towards an educator that is openly and regularly devalued at home.

South Africa is a tough country to live in. Each individual is already faced with umpteen obstacles and challenges in their daily life. Is there really a good enough reason to burden our children with even more negativity?

The greatest impact of these overheard discussion is on the child and not the teacher. Wake up! You are modelling that it is okay to have a lack of respect. By doing so you are hurting your children, their education and their relationship to the other significant adults around them.

Seeing value in education is key to motivation

In order for our children to value themselves, and feel motivated at school, they need to hear that what they are applying themselves to – their school life – is worthwhile and valuable to their family and their community. This is fundamentally important, as this is their whole world.

We force them to dedicate twelve years of their life to school. To get through these twelve years, and be successful, they are going to need a positive attitude, truck loads of motivation, a strong work ethic, tenacity, dedication, diligence, a sense of humour AND support from home.

If a parent is constantly criticising and tearing apart the system within which their child is trying to achieve, how can the child have any faith in the fact that their hard work is going to pay off? How can they believe that what they are striving for is going to be of value one day? How can we expect them to dedicate themselves to something that we obviously think is rubbish? Food for thought.

Are you hampering success? Ask yourself…

  • Am I unintentionally sending the message to my child that I do not value the people or the place I send them to for approximately 7 hours a day, 5 days a week?
  • Through the opinions that I express, am I hampering or helping my child’s ability to succeed at school?
  • With my words am I creating a bridge or a barrier to my child’s success in school?

Children’s rights

When attending school, young children have the right to feel safe, nurtured and free of worry of the things that they have no control over. By this I mean the things that should only concern adults.

Children naturally feel stressed when they sense that confrontation between home and school is imminent. Why burden them with that? Feeling safe and secure ensures that their minds are free to focus on the job of learning – learning to read, learning to write, learning to speak, learning to calculate, learning communications skills, learning organisational skills, playing, fostering friendships – and all the other important childhood concerns that should take precedence over everything else.

If they do not trust and respect their teachers, their school and their education system, how can we expect them to be motivated to learn? If we devalue their achievements by devaluing the institutions they attend, how can we expect them to have the necessary self-worth to achieve great things later on?

Pride in one’s school is one area where private schools seem to have an advantage over public schools. This is an area where parents of public schools can play a very important role.


  • Always speak positively and respectfully about your child’s teachers and the school that they attend.
  • Have adult conversations out of earshot of your children.
  • Don’t burden your children with your worries and concerns about their school.
  • Help your child to value their education.
  • Approach the school directly if you have any concerns.
  • Follow the appropriate communication channels set out by the school.
  • Always keep communication channels open with your child’s teachers.
  • When the school and parents work together, the child wins.

Further reading:

For Part 1 in this series and to find out why it’s important to have regular family dinners, please click here.

To explore working with Lianne in Randburg / Sandton and other areas in Johannesburg, contact her for a consultation to discuss how she can assist you.