We don’t have the easiest starts to the school year in our family. I have one child who is very reluctant to change and he struggles each year when the school year begins. A lot of times his frustration manifests in behavioral issues. Because of this I have come up with some tips on how to effectively communicate with your child’s teacher.
In my experience teachers really want to be a team with a family. No matter the type of challenges you are having (behavioral or learning or other), teachers want their students to succeed. They also want you to feel a part of the process so having an open line of communication with them will always help.
Each year I send a little intro email to our new teacher. We get our assignments on Meet the Teacher night, so I will usually just tell them that I am going to follow up with an email that night. In the email I introduce myself and my child. I give her my email address and cell number. I usually tell her several strengths my son has and then a few issues we have encountered. I try to keep it brief but also help her to know what to expect. The most important thing I like to tell them is that they are welcome to call me at any time especially in that first week. I want them to know that they can reach out to me at any point to just talk to me about what is happening or to see if I have any insight.
Lend a Hand
I really try to help our teachers when I can. This is definitely not something I got to do as much as I wanted last year because of still having a child at home but this year I am working to be more present. However, if you aren’t able to get to the school I always offer to cut out items or print things. You can always collect a list of items that are needed in the classroom and see if other parents will help you fulfill it There are lots of areas that teachers can use extra hands so just ask. Sometimes it can be really simple and amazingly helpful to your teacher.
Keep Up the Communication (Conferences)
Within the first few weeks, if I start to see a trend with behavior, or if I get a few calls from the teacher I will ask to come in and have a conference. With anything, sitting face to face is sometimes the best way to communicate. I feel like it’s a better use of the teacher’s time because we can discuss multiple issues at once and I can also get a better understanding of when and where issues are happening in the classroom.
Ask for Resources
Schools usually have amazing resources for their students, but sometimes you need to be the one to ask for them. When we have had struggles in the past I have asked what next steps were before they were even offered. I think it is always better to get the ball rolling sooner rather than later in a lot of circumstances. We have used this practice with speech issues, behavioral issues, or anything we have encountered at school. I have been impressed with the school’s therapist and how quickly she is to answer questions or meet with you in person. Bringing in another person to help with the issue can also really help your teacher too.
Backing Your Teacher
I cannot stress this one enough. It is so important for your child to know that you are backing their teacher and for the teacher to know that you are backing them too. I want my child to know that we are all a team. It’s not ever me and him against the teacher or the teacher and I against him. It’s a team and together we are going to have an amazing year. In the instances where my child has told me that something the teacher said was incorrect I always say, “ok well if you are telling me the teacher doesn’t have this story correct than you and I are going to go in tomorrow and the three of us are going to talk about it. Are you sure what you are saying is correct?”
I know every situation is different and I am sure that people have encountered teachers that these things wouldn’t matter to. We have been beyond blessed to have had several amazing teachers in a row. This has made all the difference in my son’s experience at school and I am incredibly grateful to the school for this.