Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 10 Apr 2008

Our seven-year-oldís teacher resents her because she is bright and precocious. Our daughter is unhappy. What can we do?

Hillary's Advice

This needs sorting out. No child should be unhappy at school, but before you do anything try and work out exactly what you are dealing with. Do you know, for example, precisely why your daughter is unhappy? Or is it just your assumption that this teacher is putting her down?

It could well be that your daughter is unlucky enough to have a mean-spirited teacher who feels threatened by her desire to forge ahead. There are plenty of them out there, and their crabbed pronouncements blight too many young lives.

Equally Ė and Iím sorry to be so blunt -- it could be that your daughter is extremely irritating. It is not uncommon for doting parents to find evidence for their childís emerging brilliance in every run-of-the-mill utterance, and a child used to this kind of adoration can be a real pain to teach.

Think hard about what the truth is, then take action. Make an appointment to see the teacher concerned and explain quietly but firmly that your child is unhappy and why you think that is. Ask about the schoolís policy on gifted and talented children, and whether your daughter can be given some more advanced work to stretch her. If she has been hurt by things the teacher has said to her, explain that too. Avoid angry accusations -- they will only make things worse. Instead go as a couple and agree beforehand that, if one of you starts to get heated and upset, the other will take over. At the end of the meeting, ask for a follow-up appointment so you can all review how things are going.