Q. My son, a high school freshman, is struggling with math for the first time ever. He says the teacher is terrible. How long should I wait before contacting the school?
A. Your son needs to explain exactly what he means by "terrible" and describe specifically what's so problematic about the class. Then he should set up a meeting with the teacher where he can respectfully express his frustrations. If the problems continue, that's when you should talk with the teacher. Only after both of those meetings have occurred are you within your rights to go over the instructor's head and contact an administrator. I really mean that. Contacting the school should be the last thing you do—not the first.
Originally published in the September 2008 issue of Family Circle magazine.