For parents of children with academic, behavioral or social issues, wondering what your child's new teacher will be like can be nerve-wracking. You're hoping for the best, but you might be bracing for the worst, especially if you've had trouble explaining your child's differences to teachers in the past.
Your child needs everyone on the same page to make the best academic progress, so it's crucial to keep the lines of communicate open. Here are some tips for starting that first conversation with a new teacher.
Give It a Week
Although your impulse may be to run up to the teacher on the first day of school and lay out all your concerns about the school year, it's better to take a deep breath and let your child settle in first. The first few days of school usually aren't highly academic because most teachers are working to get to know their new students, teach school rules and build a healthy classroom dynamic for the year. Let this happen, and give the teacher a chance to get to know your child without any preconceived notions. Your child and teacher will both appreciate the breathing room.
Keep It Casual
To open a discussion about your child, start with an email that introduces yourself and your child's learning difference. Ask what the best way to chat about your child would be. Some teachers prefer email, others the phone and others like a face-to-face meeting. Letting the teacher choose the format and timing will show that you are flexible and willing to work together and that you are not looking to create a confrontation during the first month of the school year.
Listen First, Speak Second
When you do meet the teacher for the first time, open with a question about how your child is doing. This will give you valuable information about your child as well as some clues about how the new teacher runs her classroom. Listen to the teacher without interrupting and take her insights to heart.
After you get a sense of how your child is doing, share your concerns. Try to keep these focused on your child rather than any personality clashes with the teacher. Try statements like, "I'm worried about how my child's disability affects his ability to do ___ in school. How can we work on that this year?" Keeping the conversation focused on teamwork and problem solving is a constructive way to advocate for your child without leaving the teacher feeling ambushed.
Getting off on the right foot with your child's teacher can make a huge difference in how well the school year goes. By introducing your child's needs early on and in a way that invites collaboration, you can forge a strong working partnership with your child's teacher for the year.
To learn why our whole-child approach is the most effective way to help your child overcome their learning, behavior, and social challenges, contact us online or find a center near you.