During school hours, teachers are the leaders of our children. Their word is pretty much rule. They decide how each minute of the day will be structured (based on guidelines from the school, of course). They determine when your child gets to go to recess, whether they earn accolades for a job well done and whether your child gets to advance to the next level. There is no denying that a teacher is one of the most powerful influences in a child’s life. But when does that influence cross the line? Should teachers be able to go so far as to determine what kids can do at home?
I live in a bilingual country: Canada! The majority of Canada speaks mostly English but my province, Quebec,speaks mostly french! As a parent, I truly believe that my kids should speak both languages! We speak both at home! It comes sometimes with challenges but it has always worked. My children are totally bilingual and I am proud of it!
You can certainly find interesting conversations during the dinner table: a mix of french and English but in the end my kids are perfectly fine with both languages! How did we do this? Well, our pediatrician recommended that each parent should speak one language until the child understands that there are two different languages! So my husband speaks English to the kids and I speak French! The funny part of it is that my kids (until the age of 3) thought that my husband did not speak French! So each time I spoke to him in French they would translate in English! Isn’t that cute?
What do you do when teachers cross the line?
When my daughter entered the kindergarten few months ago, she managed to speak both languages. But her kindergarten is a French-speaking one! English speaking is not tolerated. I understand that rule: they want the children to learn the language properly but I was ticked off one day when my daughter refused to speak English at home? When I asked her why, she said: “my teacher recommends that I speak French even at home.”
I was shocked! How can a teacher tell a child what language to speak at home? Isnt’ that crossing the boundaries? Now those are words of a 6-year-old! Maybe the teacher asked her to watch TV in French to practice, I thought, but when I questioned my daughter again and again she said: “the teacher said we should speak french even at home!” I let it go for few days yes still my daughter did not want to speak English at home! You know how determined can a 6-year-old be!
What did I do?
Should I confront the teacher? I did not want to cause a turmoil at school because a 6-year-old said something! So I thought instead of confronting the teacher, I worked with my daughter.
How to solve the problem diplomatically
How? Here is what I said: the teacher has the right to ask you to speak only in french at school! But once you leave school, you can speak whatever language you want! You can speak Chinese, Japanese, whatever language you want! You can speak French but it should be YOUR choice not your teacher’s.
Was it helpful? Yes it was because my daughter understood that at home it is the parent’s rule! Not the teachers and this what I wanted to teach! What do you think? Should teachers be able to demand that children speak a certain language at home? Should they be able to dictate other actions at home? What are the boundaries?
Just a note, I chose not to confront the teacher not because I am scared to, but because I didn’t feel it would be helpful. Would you have handled it differently?