1. Winifred Rosenburg

    I teach private music lessons to children. I was talking to my mother (who is a retired special ed. teacher) about a nine-year-old boy I have been teaching. I told her about a habit he has of using his finger to try to visually process the music. My mother said that he probably has a muscle problem with his eyes. She said I should suggest to the parents that they take him to a developmental optometrist. I’m concerned that it isn’t my place to do so and perhaps that sort of suggestion should be left to his primary teacher in school. I’m also concerned that the parents might even take offense at my attempt to diagnose their child. Should I tell the parents?

    • I was thinking about this one for a while. I realize that in elementary school, it is the responsibility of teachers to let parents know if there might be an issue which could impact the child’s learning. Normally, I think an unrelated person should mind her own business, but the parents are paying you to instruct their child. Certainly if something is affecting the child’s processing, they need to know. I wouldn’t diagnose the child or offer any suggestion of a disability, but simply let them know you’ve noticed a behavior that impacts Junior’s ability to progress in his studies. Maybe it’s simply a bad habit and they can help him as he practices at home… at the very least, they will be made aware.

  2. Alicia

    How about doing the more generic comment so they do not think you have been discussing their kid. Why not say ” Oh by the way, I often recomend to my students parents that they make sure the kid had gone to an eye doctor recently as very sharp vision is important in allowing the student to read the notes properly.”
    Then let the eye doctor decide if it is a matter of near sighted or muscle development or not eye related at all.

      • Chocobo

        I disagree, I think Alicia’s suggestion is wonderful. It gets the point across without possibly causing offense by directly saying “I think there is something wrong with your child.” Laura’s suggestion is also valid, but either way I think caution is wise.

        Indirect communication is not offensive, that is just untrue. Half of Emily Post’s and other etiquette manuals are instructions on how to communicate with others circuitously (such as saying “I hope you’ll be very happy together” rather than “What? Why?” when hearing of an engagement one does not approve of). As I understand it, it is bluntness that is more often construed as rudeness.

        • Jerry

          Chocobo: There’s a difference between responding to a question with tact and grace (i.e., “I really like those colors on you” when asked if an ugly sweater looks good) and beating around the bush when it comes to providing necessary information about someone’s health and safety (i.e., “I’ve noticed that your child is pointing to the music when he tries to read it. In all my X years of teaching, every time a child does this it is a sign of vision problems. I thought you’d like to know.” as opposed to “I recommend that all my students go to the eye doctor regularly as good vision is important to learning to play music.”).

          Laura’s method of communication provides necessary information — Alicia’s does not. And if I’m the parent paying for the music lessons I probably thank Laura. However, I consider replacing Alicia — “very sharp vision is important in allowing the student to read the notes properly . . .” Duh!

          • Alicia

            Yes but ” In all my X years of teaching, every time a child does this it is a sign of vision problems. I thought you’d like to know.” is also not the truth. She does not know that it is a vision problem. This is the first time she has thought this and only because on discussion with someone else who has not seen the kid is this diagnosis being thought of. There is not enough certainly to say that it is a vision problem. She has never seen this before and thought this and had it really diagnosed by an eye doctor. She has no training to think that this is a sign of eye disease. She very easy could be wrong and it is the kids way of thinking about music. So a generic suggestion to get an eyes and ears check up is good telling the parents without better justification that the kid has eye disease is misleading. If the kid comes back from the eye doctor and has perfect vision and you have worried the parents for nothing . I know if a music teacher started incorrectly diagnosing my kid as having eye development issues I would consider it intrusive and overstepping. Also many kids are taught to read by pointing at letters. It is a stage of reading development when the eye control of associating the letters into words occurs and a normal progression of reading. When you are taught to speedread you also point at each line. To point at notes seems normal or at least understandable. It could also be how he is visuallizing the music.

          • Jerry

            Fine, she could say “I have heard that this could be a sign of vision problems and I thought you’d like to know.” A generic suggestion to make sure that kids get routine examinations? Seriously? If you tell me this, I’m thinking who are you to tell me how to raise my kids . . .

            That is, unless you’ve got some legitimate concernsm the advice you’re offering, Alicia, seems condescending at best!

  3. Kim

    Hoping you can help with our question. If we are invited to a family birthday party and take a gift, are we to bring food also?


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