Printable: Back-to-school update to learn from families

ByGretchen Vierstra, MA

Back-to-school update: Tell teachers how your child is doingPDF

In a typical year, you probably spend the first weeks of school gathering information about your students. But last school year was far from typical. Some students may have spent the year doing distance or hybrid learning. The information you need might be harder to find.

Asking a few questions can help you build positive relationships with your new students and their families. What were the challenges? What were the successes? What changed in kids’ lives? And how are they feeling right now?

Share this one-page questionnaire with your students’ families. Families can download it on a computer or phone, and then type answers into the form. Or they can print it out and fill it in by hand. The form is also available in Spanish.

Responding to families’ concerns

After families return their questionnaires, follow up as needed and plan for how you can partner with families throughout the year. 

Some families may mention new behaviors that concern them. You can direct them to Take N.O.T.E., a step-by-step tool Understood developed with the American Academy of Pediatrics to help families spot signs of learning and thinking differences. The tool includes resources on frustration, stress, and anxiety, and it empowers families to seek support. 

Ready to dive deeper? Find out more about the benefits of strong family-teacher partnerships.

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About the author

About the author

Gretchen Vierstra, MA is the managing editor at Understood and co-host of the “In It” podcast. She’s a former educator with experience teaching and designing programs in schools, organizations, and online learning spaces.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days.