Topics to talk with teachers about early in the school year

By Gail Belsky

Talking with your child’s teacher early can set the stage for strong communication all year long. But the start of the year can be hectic (especially this year), and teachers may not have the time to talk about a range of topics all at once.

What are the most important ones to go over first? That depends on you and your child. But here are seven topics that often rise to the top. 

Learning challenges you’ve seen at home

The start of any school year puts a lot of pressure on kids who learn and think differently. After a year or more of distance or hybrid learning, you may have seen your child struggling in some areas.

Talk with the teacher about any challenges or changes that you’ve seen at home to get a jump on solutions. Start with something positive: “My child is really excited about your class.” Then bring up the difficulties you’ve seen.

Emotional challenges

The transition back to school is hard for some kids every year. But after the stress and isolation of COVID, more kids are coming back this year with emotional challenges.

If your child is struggling, it’s important for the teacher to know. Talking about it early lets the teacher give your child support. It can also help the teacher understand difficulties at school.

Academic questions or concerns

Maybe you’re worried about COVID slide. Or you’d like to know specific skills your child needs to work on this year so you can support learning at home. Either way, it’s good to talk with the teacher about academic expectations. If you and the teacher have shared expectations, your child won’t get mixed messages. 

Getting and staying organized

If your child struggles with organization and time management, the teacher will notice it pretty quickly. It’s also likely to be the first thing that gets in your child’s way at school. 

Talking about it early lets you and the teacher come up with strategies to help keep these challenges from getting in the way of learning.

Information about what’s important to your family

Your family may have traditions, values, and customs that play a big role in your child’s life. Talking about what’s important to your family lets the teacher be sensitive and supportive. 

Also share any negative past experiences you or your child has had because of your family’s background, beliefs, or customs. 

Bullying and bias

Bullying is a big problem, and it can have a lasting impact on kids. If your child has been bullied or has bullied other kids, the teacher should know as early as possible. This includes cyberbullying.

Bullying Fact SheetPDF

Explain exactly what’s happened in the past, and how your child reacted to it. Talk about what the teacher or school might do to prevent bullying and what steps they’ll take if it happens again this year. 

Strengths, talents, and passions

Knowing about a child’s strengths can be as valuable to teachers as knowing about challenges. Teachers can use that information to connect with your child. They can also use it as a “way in” to help your child work on challenges and stay engaged.

Let the teacher know how your child uses those strengths at home. Also talk about successes (big and small) and what makes your child feel proud. Explore a list of types of strengths in kids.

Learn about back-to-school anxiety, and what to watch out for.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Gail Belsky is executive editor at Understood. She has written and edited for major media outlets, specializing in parenting, health, and career content.

    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.