5 Tips for Talking with Teachers About Your Child’s Needs
Open communication between parents/caregivers and teachers plays a vital role in supporting your child’s success and happiness at school.
However, knowing what and how to communicate effectively can be a challenge.
In this blog post, we will explore five practical tips to help you establish clear and meaningful communication with your child's teacher.
1. Attend Beginning of the School Year Events:
Start the school year on a solid note by attending any "Meet the Teacher" or "Open House" events offered by the school. Attending these events allows you to introduce yourself to your child's teacher, understand their teaching style, and get an overview of what the school year will look like. This also offers an excellent opportunity to inquire about the best ways to stay connected with the teacher and class throughout the year. Find out if they use communication apps, have a newsletter, or a classroom website. Making connections and having such information at the beginning of the year will facilitate easier and faster communication later on.
2. Share Significant Changes:
Keep your child’s teacher informed about any significant changes that occur during the year. This could include changes to your family dynamics or a new medical diagnosis. While it may feel uncomfortable to discuss personal information with the teacher, sharing this information can help them monitor any potential educational or behavioral changes that your child displays at school. Open communication with your child’s teacher could also lead to additional support such as connecting your child with a school counselor.
3. Share Relevant Diagnoses and Specific Support Needs:
If your child has a diagnosis (such as ADHD) or has very specific support needs (like carrying noise canceling headphones in their backpack for loud assemblies or fire drills) it is essential that their teacher is aware of it. Sharing this information allows the teacher to better understand your child's needs and make necessary accommodations to support their learning and development. This may be done through a formal process, such as the development of an IEP or 504 plan, and informing your child's teacher before the school year starts is a great way to get that process started. Openly discussing your child's diagnosis can lead to a more inclusive and supportive educational experience.
4. Prepare for Meetings:
Before meeting with your child's teacher, take the time to prepare what you would like to share and any questions that you may have. Having a clear agenda will keep the conversation focused, boost your confidence during the discussion, and will ensure that essential topics are not overlooked. If you are the one requesting the meeting, it can be beneficial to briefly inform the teacher of the meeting’s purpose so that they can be prepared as well. Remember that teachers often have limited time for parent meetings, so being prepared will make the most of the time you have together.
5. Approach Issues That May Arise in a Collaborative Manner:
When discussing behavior concerns or other potentially difficult matters, try to approach conversations with your child's teacher with an open mind. Teachers may observe different behaviors and traits in your child than what you see at home. If you anticipate a challenging conversation, consider bringing along another family member or trusted friend to provide support and advocacy.
One additional resource that I often recommend to educators is the book Lost at School by Dr. Ross Greene, which addresses how to best support children with special needs in the school setting. It is a great read for parents and educators alike, and can give you some additional language to use when talking with your child's teachers.
Effective communication between parents and teachers is a key factor in fostering a positive and supportive learning environment for children. By attending school events, sharing important information, preparing for meetings, and approaching conversations with an open mind, parents/caregivers can establish strong partnerships with teachers to increase their child's success and happiness at school!
Callie Caudill, LCSWA is a child therapist and former school social worker. She provides counseling support to children ages 5-18 in Asheville, NC. You can read more about Callie here.