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Old 01.06.2016, 18:44
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Speak to KG teacher or see what happens? (long)

My son is currently in KG, with, quite frankly, an awful teacher. We knew he was unhappy, but not quite how bad it was until he injured himself so I wouldn't make him go in one morning. We have just found out that rather than be put in the parallel class, my daughter will have to go to the same teacher.

Would it be reasonable for me to request a meeting with the teacher before my daughter starts to request the following points, or is it better to wait until she has started?

We ask for an acknowledgement that school language is my child’s third language and that following advice from speech therapists (including the one my son has seen at the school’s request), paediatrician, the website of the Kanton BE Schulamt, a friend who is a kindergarten teacher and two who teach at secondary level, that my husband and I shall continue to speak to our children in our native languages.

It has been suggested several times that I stop speaking english (my husband French) to our children and speak the German, which I can get by in, but in which I am no means fluent.

Following on from the previous point, that she will from time to time ask my daughter if she understands what she has been asked to do.
I discovered that teacher had never asked my son because we hadn't given her permission to treat him differently to the other children. That she has 17 other children in the class and can’t be explaining several times what she has asked the children to do. She gives her instructions only once.

Respect for differences in cultural celebrations. She basically informed my son he wouldn't be getting any presents from Santa, cue one very, very upset child.

Linked to this that she will listen to answers given and think before telling the child that they are wrong. Secondly not to put our child in a situation where she is continually pushed for the desired answer until all the other children laugh at her.
When I visited KG she repeatedly asked him the same question over and over again, each time telling him he was wrong until all the other children laughed at him. His answer was, in fact, correct. I am still kicking myself I didn't correct her at the time, but I didn't want to call her out on her mistake in front of the rest of the class. The last time.

We ask that our child is not taught to disrespect either cultural or physical differences of other races.
They are taught by the teacher to pull their eyes into slits whilst singing in chinese.

We ask that our daughter, unlike our son, will receive the same rewards as the other children.

Other children get stickers for their chart each time they do an activity and some had 4-5 for each activity. My son had only one on the entire wall because “there is no point giving him more than one as he does the same activity over and over again”. The next time I spoke it wasn't her giving the stickers, it was the responsibility of the child to take them. The next time I spoke to her it wasn't the responsibility of the child to take the sticker but to ask her for one. The next time I spoke to her it was because he didn't recognise his name on the list. This is not true.

We ask that we will be notified as soon as an problems arise, not that the are hidden from us until parents evening. I only found out all this because I visited KG for his birthday party.

I am reluctant to ask for a quick word at the door because I did this about helping my son learn to write his name. It was only a year later I found out they were not doing it because I hadn't said it at an Elterngespräch. I don't know the best way forwards. Say nothing and risk my daughter having an awful start to KG (she has only negative experiences so far, sees that my son hates it, was very upset when he hurt himself). Say something and risk that she is off with my daughter right from the start. What is the 'done thing' over here?
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Old 01.06.2016, 18:59
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Re: Speak to KG teacher or see what happens? (long)

Find a different teacher. If it is only half as bad as you describe above there is no point whatsoever in talking to the teacher.


My son's KG teacher was xenophobic, and didn't like little boys to boot. We didn't change him to a different class because he would have missed his best mate. That was 16 years ago, I regret it to this day, as it flavoured my son's perception of school permanently.
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Old 01.06.2016, 19:13
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Re: Speak to KG teacher or see what happens? (long)

Now. Go with your gut as a parent and go to the school now. Or at least tomorrow. Now. Now. Now. This is an entirely unacceptable situation.


What would I do?


Go to the head teacher and stand there until he or she saw me and I wouldn't leave until I'd spoken with the class teacher and the head teacher together. I would wait. And I would start out very politely and in a (and believe me, this would gall me but I would do it) very humble way express concern about what you understand the situation to be and "hope" that you've simply misunderstood.


If you are told you HAVE misunderstood, or are told that the head teacher is not aware of any issues with this class teacher and/or your child, if you are told a very different tale than the one you have already, then I would get very very insistent. And a lot louder.


Take a witness if you can. Write it all down during or after.


I'm sorry - I'm utterly appalled. Your poor children. You poor, well, you.


Only 18 kids in a class? She should be so lucky. If she honestly thinks that "saying something only once" is going to cut it then she's dreaming. That is not how classrooms work. And, speaking as one, any teacher who wilfully makes a child cry needs some of their own treatment back at them.


So what if he does the same task over and over? I had one kid (9 years behind her chronological age because of a birth brain injury) who spent most of one year learning how to copy and then write independently her name, count to 15 and identify different colours. She also got involved in all the books/poems etc she read and gave verbal answers instead of writing them down. She took her turn (with assistance from me, her TA or other students) at the whiteboard just like everyone else. She was subject to the same rewards and sanctions - albeit in a suitably adapted way for her needs/understanding etc. This was the same for EVERY class she was in. One very happy girl.


Students - especially younger ones and ones who struggle for whatever reason - need routines and patterns and modelled behaviours. Regarding the sticker thing, it sounds like she is moving the goal posts at will in order to suit he current argument. The procedure is the procedure and should only be unique for your child in that it should be something that he understands. He should not be penalised because of the teacher's prejudices. It should be the same for every student in the class.


I'm sorry to say but this woman does not sound like she is fit to be in a classroom.


I hope you get this resolved, I really do. I am so sorry this is happening.


Edited to say, regarding the stickers: One of my best friends is a UK primary teacher who currently has a class of 31 5 and 6 year olds. She has the usual sanctions and rewards (stickers, stamped smileys, a chart etc) and occasionally they have sweets. She has a couple of kids who aren't allowed sugar, so they get either fruit, or an extra "special" sticker. If kids are naughty etc it is customary for them to be denied their break in the playground; sometimes they don't get "golden" time (play/free time) and must remain with her in the room. She has one kid who can't manage this situation, so he his sanction has to be different - he has to go and eat his lunch with the headteacher as he understands that THIS is a punishment as in his head it's "Proper". I know it sounds nonsensical but it's an agreement between the school and the parent and it works. Obviously, it's a sliding scale and other infractions are dealt with as they go along.


I teach older kids. Some kids get excluded. Some kids WANT to get excluded so they have more time to do the things that got them excluded in the first place. These kids didn't get excluded as it was a greater punishment to keep them in the building 8.30 til 3.30 and not let them socialise with their peers.


My point is that while perhaps in an ideal world for a quiet life everything would be black and white, absolute, one size fits all, it's not actually like that and this "teacher" you speak about should bloody well know it.

Last edited by RufusB; 01.06.2016 at 21:53. Reason: Rant.
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Old 01.06.2016, 19:17
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Re: Speak to KG teacher or see what happens? (long)

It sounds like it is past a quick word atthe door as your son is already suffering and you consider it serious enough to tell us about it.
Make a list. Arrange a meeting with the teacher & head of the school. Make sure you either understand what is being said or have someone with you who can translate if you get stuck. Don't leave it hanging until your daughter starts. Say your son has been having problems with the transition & you don't think the teachers attitude has helped. If the teacher hasa problem with your comments, ask the head that your daughter be put in another class from the outset.
The kids will pick up German at school. It won't help if you are talking to them in a language that is unnatural to you.
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Old 01.06.2016, 21:44
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Re: Speak to KG teacher or see what happens? (long)

"My point is that while perhaps in an ideal world for a quiet life everything would be black and white, absolute, one size fits all. However it's not like that and this "teacher" you speak about should bloody well know it."

And that is when the Swiss school system absolutely fails. They strive for children to be within the tram lines.

OP I am sorry to say that the depth of examples you give indicates that this teacher does not have the capacity to change. However, the approach that works best is to never point out the faults the school teacher has but to say "can you help me with this".

My German teacher told me it is absolutely vitally important that you speak in your mother tongue to your child. If you do this he said, then the child learns the second language and the first language helps to bring the second to the same level. If you don`t then the child middles in both languages. So she is completely wrong in her statement.

I am sorry there is so much wrong with this teacher. Our kindergarten teacher made a point of arranging Santa etc. I think you have a very poor teacher here. I would request a different teacher for your daughter or move. There is so much autonomy here that when the teachers are good they are very very good and when they are not they are way beyond the worst.
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Old 01.06.2016, 21:48
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Re: Speak to KG teacher or see what happens? (long)

I believe Bern allows homeschooling if it gets so bad. I would also request that both children be transferred to the parallel class and don`t give up on this until it is accepted.
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Old 01.06.2016, 22:48
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Re: Speak to KG teacher or see what happens? (long)

This sounds like a tough situation.

Just from the teacher's suggestion that you switch out of your mother tongue it is obvious that the teacher is not knowledgeable - at all. Switch classes or move to another school area if this is not approved - this kind of stress is not worth it for your family.

Good luck appealing the class change for your son/daughter - in Switzerland this can be very tricky to do on many levels. If you have any very diplomatic Swiss friends it might be useful to have them help in this school meeting situation if possible.

Wishing you all the best of luck!
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Old 01.06.2016, 23:34
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Re: Speak to KG teacher or see what happens? (long)

Not just the teacher, the headmaster too suggested I stop speaking English at home We have since had the logopedie assessment they insisted on (who couldn't reconcile the teacher statement of 'can only put two word phrases together' 'limited vocab' to the answers she got from my son) and she has said that she is going to have a word with the school pointing out that parents should speak mother tongue with their children!

We stuck with the teacher rather than demand he be moved into the parallel class as it was always clear that my daughter would be put in the opposite stream to him so they can't meet in the 1/2 class. We didn't feel we could push for a change for him for 6 months that would just as negatively affect our daughter for two years. Now the school have decided to switch him into the other stream to go to school and so daughter is stuck with awful teacher anyway! It's only now that we have the new class allocation that I feel we need to say something. My (swiss) husband doesn't as he says not even she would be so stupid as to pick on two children of the same family, she will find someone else next year and she is known to prefer girls to boys. He thinks it is better to keep quiet now in case there are more important battles to fight in the future and we shouldn't make a name for ourselves for being difficult.

As for the rest, it has been reported to the school psychologist/psychiatrist. We panicked that if an official complaint was made it would not be beneficial for my son. We later had a meeting with the inspectorate, head master and teacher and with a few choice but subtle comments, it was clear to us that it had been reported to the inspector. The teacher was strongly advised to consider going on a course etc.

The teacher's solution, when it all blew up at the end of the year, was to suggest that my son went part time so the other children could see he is different and would stop asking her why he couldn't (wouldn't) do things. I, a little impolitely, declined. But he now has a teaching assistant so now is only fully exposed to the teacher once a week. One day they have another teacher, another day half is with the nice teacher for german lessons and on the two other days the assistant is there. We are ok with this solution, in that he just needs to get through the rest of the year. But that was before they wanted to switch him out.

There is only one school here, I was under the impression that you have to move Gemeinde to get into another school. Is that not true?

I have spoken to a couple of other parents and they have all said that any issues should be raised direct with the teacher first and it is considered bad form to go above their heads to the headmaster. I'm toying with the idea of asking her for a meeting and if she would like it alone or with the headmaster present. I don't have anyone I could ask to go with me as I would need her to watch the children for me whilst I was at the meeting. I was wondering if I could ask the teaching assistant to be present, but I don't want to put her in an awkward position.
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Old 01.06.2016, 23:35
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Re: Speak to KG teacher or see what happens? (long)

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I believe Bern allows homeschooling if it gets so bad. I would also request that both children be transferred to the parallel class and don`t give up on this until it is accepted.
I know a Swiss family who over from Luzern to Bern so they could do home schooling.
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Old 01.06.2016, 23:57
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Re: Speak to KG teacher or see what happens? (long)

It seems that your Swiss husband probably has a point to pick your battles.

However, it just seems that with this level of dysfunction (even from the principal) and a bad start it might just be a good idea to move to another gemeinde rather than stick it out - this might be a 'battle' or apartment change that your family might want to consider picking by moving over the summer and having a new start in August. (Of course this would also be a lot of effort moving for your family.) From what you related it sounds like your family already probably has a 'difficult' label at this school.

Best of luck! Also, I think meeting more with the teacher is probably just a waste of energy at this point. Either knowingly accept it the way it is as best you can or make a school/gemiende change for a fresh start :-) My two cents.
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Old 02.06.2016, 00:13
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Re: Speak to KG teacher or see what happens? (long)

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It has been suggested several times that I stop speaking english (my husband French) to our children and speak German
That alone is enough to justify looking for another school. There is no point talking to this kind of person, it's a shame it happens to be a teacher, but don't waste time with such people ignorant of multilingualism in any context. Teacher speaking here.

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Old 02.06.2016, 00:49
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Re: Speak to KG teacher or see what happens? (long)

My husband is a linguistics professor and he would never consider speaking to our children in any language but his mother tongue.

We live in the Kanton Bern and a former classmate of my yongest son is now being homeschooled because the parents were unhappy with the system.

When we first arrived in Switzerland our first son also had a horrible Kindergarden teacher. We lasted all of two weeks before we found a Steiner school with a wonderful teacher. Would a private school for the Kindergarten period be an option for you?

I feel for you and wish you good luck in resolving this situation.
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Old 02.06.2016, 00:59
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Re: Speak to KG teacher or see what happens? (long)

My wife is still pissed that her father never spoke Swiss-German to her and her sister (he was bi-lingual Italian/Swiss-German), and that her ex-husband never spoke Vietnames to the kids (he is Vietnamese).

I always spoke English to mine, but my late wife was a Canadian from Tronna so it was more or less the same accent (me being a NewEnglander).

Tom
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Old 02.06.2016, 06:54
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Re: Speak to KG teacher or see what happens? (long)

You need to demand an appointment with the teacher and the headmaster outside of schooltimes. A quick word at the door may be okay for little things and Elternabende are for general things (although you should mention things like what you told us there, if only to make other parents take notice, what's going on in class). Do take a witness - best a Swiss person - only because they might claim later that you misunderstood.
Don't be humble! Be firm. In my opinion <<daughter, unlike our son, will receive the same rewards as the other children>> is the wrong stance. You ask that both of them do from now on!
The language spoken at home is entirely and exlcusively the decision of the parents. It's good to have back up from the pro's but even if you hadn't it's up to you. Not to mention that no pro would ever suggest otherwise. Non western kids often take lessons in their own language in their free time if it's offered in Switzerland - and it often is by organisations from emigrants of their home-country - to make sure they keep it/learn how to write and read it. With English and French that is not necessary as it will be tought in school later on.
<<She gives her instructions only once.>> As a teacher?! And a KG-teacher on top of that?! No matter how "native" a little child is, it often needs instructions repeated and in different ways so it will understand it thoroughly. Heck, I even advise foreign adults several times and ask back if they understood - and often WHAT they understood - so I can correct if necessary. Even adults tend to pretend they understood and are too shy to ask back. It's the informers duty to make sure information gets accross clearly/is being understood ...... no matter how much time I have to invest to achieve that. That goes especially for teachers!
The part about the stickers shows me, you've not been firm enough. You want THE answer to that, instruct your child accordingly and if it still doesn't get stickers you talk to the headmaster. This teacher seems to play the same game with you as with the kids and obviously got away with it up until now.
Maybe your son finishes Kindergarten this summer, then he sould finish in that class and you can give him moral support by counting down the days with him for example. With your daughter I think you shouldn't even take the risk. Demand for her to go to parallel-class - as you're lucky and there is one - right from the start.

I had to "defend" countless kids in KG and school over the years, because their parents not only spoke a different language but often didn't know the school-system here or never went to school themselves even and were easily intimidated . You don't come from such a different culture, you know how it is supposed to be and how you want it, you gotta stand up for that - unfortunately that's how it is sometimes.

Make it as official as possible - separate meeting/after school - be clear, firm and polite yet definitely not humble. The fact that your son has injured himself should not be kept a secret either, I think.
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Old 02.06.2016, 10:26
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Re: Speak to KG teacher or see what happens? (long)

I feel for you, this is such a sad situation. Make sure to always remind your son that this teacher is different and not all teachers are bad. It wouldn't be good for him or you if he resents school / teachers because of one rotten apple.

Our KG teacher always emphasised that we speak in our native / comfortable language as she says that more likely if you try and speak german with the kids you will either pronounce incorrectly or have grammatical issues which is absolutely not good for the kids.

We are all here for you.
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Old 02.06.2016, 11:03
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Re: Speak to KG teacher or see what happens? (long)

The kindergarten teacher is overwhelmed with the situation and is making bad decisions because of her anxiety and lack of experience. Normally, the first step is to talk to the teacher face to face. However, in your case, I believe talking to her and the headmaster together about your issues and your resolve for finding solutions will bring even more positive results for all parties involved. Teacher assistants should not be party to such a meeting unless their actions have caused a dilemma.

Despite what you may read or hear, schools are required to find the best solutions possible. Although there are a few teachers who may not be suited for the job, nevertheless, most are, and they continuously strive to make the classroom an enjoyable learning place for all involved.
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Old 02.06.2016, 16:51
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Re: Speak to KG teacher or see what happens? (long)

Exactly what Curley said. I retract my "humbly" suggestion as I didn't realise you'd already tried that.




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It seems that your Swiss husband probably has a point to pick your battles.

However, it just seems that with this level of dysfunction (even from the principal) and a bad start it might just be a good idea to move to another gemeinde rather than stick it out - this might be a 'battle' or apartment change that your family might want to consider picking by moving over the summer and having a new start in August. (Of course this would also be a lot of effort moving for your family.) From what you related it sounds like your family already probably has a 'difficult' label at this school.

Best of luck! Also, I think meeting more with the teacher is probably just a waste of energy at this point. Either knowingly accept it the way it is as best you can or make a school/gemiende change for a fresh start :-) My two cents.

I'm sorry - but of all the battles, this is the one to pick. Difficult? They probably haven't ever experienced difficult. If standing up for the health and welfare of your child is classed as difficult then I give up. Or rather I shall have instructional leaflets printed out ready and waiting for when LR attends school as a general warning.


I don't understand how educational professionals in this school could make these kinds of judgements: it sounds like they plan on sticking together/repeating the same story, regardless. What body is above the school? Maybe they need a bit more of a shake. I personally would be less concerned with "how it is done here" and more focused on showing them how you do it. Stand your ground. You know.

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The kindergarten teacher is overwhelmed with the situation and is making bad decisions because of her anxiety and lack of experience. Normally, the first step is to talk to the teacher face to face. However, in your case, I believe talking to her and the headmaster together about your issues and your resolve for finding solutions will bring even more positive results for all parties involved. Teacher assistants should not be party to such a meeting unless their actions have caused a dilemma.

Despite what you may read or hear, schools are required to find the best solutions possible. Although there are a few teachers who may not be suited for the job, nevertheless, most are, and they continuously strive to make the classroom an enjoyable learning place for all involved.

There has been a face to face with the teacher but OP is getting nowhere. And if she trusts the TA, why not?


And if a teacher is anxious, and making bad decisions, then it is the duty of the school - her colleagues, her line manager, her boss - to step in and help her manage the issue. Her unprofessional and, frankly, bullying approach to the OP's child should not be condoned.


Is there any value going to your Gemeinde?


I'm just asking - I do not need a response here - but has your son got an assessment statement about his needs from either a doctor, an Ed. Psych etc? I don't know what they're called here. They should have recommended strategies and an Individualised Education Plan which all parties agree on (behaviour expectations, methods of working, approaches to new tasks, how you can support at home, sanctions/rewards etc). Yes, it's time consuming. But it still needs to be done.


What is the Special Educational Needs policy at the school? Who is in charge of implementing it? This is the person you need to talk to. It shouldn't be the head teacher, but I have a sinking feeling that in this case it may be.


What happens if you make a formal complaint and withdraw your child pending investigation?


I really hope you're getting somewhere.
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Old 02.06.2016, 18:22
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Re: Speak to KG teacher or see what happens? (long)

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It has been suggested several times that I stop speaking english (my husband French) to our children and speak the German, which I can get by in, but in which I am no means fluent.
...
They are taught by the teacher to pull their eyes into slits whilst singing in chinese.
Just these two points on their own are entirely unacceptable. The first is utter nonsense - speaking to your children in your mother tongue is vital to their entire language acquisition.

The second... words fail me.

Since the headmaster seems to not understand the issues, I think your best option is to move to another community. The only other route is to go to his bosses - and it won't end prettily, I think.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 03.06.2016 at 16:33. Reason: changed name in quoted text
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  #19  
Old 02.06.2016, 18:30
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Re: Speak to KG teacher or see what happens? (long)

It might be as simple as a short letter pointing out that you have had a number of conflicts with your son's KG teacher and are unhappy that your daughter has been placed with the same teacher, and would like to request if possible that she be placed into the other class.

This would be a 'neutral' position, or some sort of way of flagging that you will raise further complaints, if you are not taken seriously.

Follow this statement with a request for an appointment to discuss the situation further, if it is not easily resolved by your request.

Either way, you need to act fast if you want an alternative for your daughter as once the class groups are set, it will be much harder for the school to change them over.

From what I understand, the School Psychologist will be quite separate from the school management, and they are very unlikely to take your case any further as that is not their role. They can, however, make clear recommendations regarding further support and approaches that can work for your child's benefit.

I highly doubt that the school psychologist will take any 'complaint' further on your behalf - you need to be willing to make an appointment with the school Principal / Leader to discuss your concerns/complaints and give them a chance to respond appropriately/professionally.

Usually, it is better to handle things in person/at a scheduled meeting, and then follow up in writing once you have given the other person a chance to respond to your concerns...
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Old 02.06.2016, 19:21
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Re: Speak to KG teacher or see what happens? (long)

In some countries, the "slitty eye" thing could end up with a criminal prosecution. The Swiss people I talked to around here say that at the very least, the teacher would be disciplined - even sacked.
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