At a glance
If your child is struggling with math, talking about it is a good step toward getting answers.
The teacher can help you understand what’s going on and what to do next.
Having the words to use can make the conversation easier.
Is your child having trouble with math? Talking with the teacher can help you understand what’s happening and how to help. You can talk during a parent-teacher conference. Or you can set up another time to talk, either in person or by phone or email.
But how do you express your concerns? When you talk to the teacher, be clear and specific. Ask questions and follow-up questions. The whole point is to find out what’s going on and what can help.
Here are sample conversation starters to make the talk easier.
Asking to meet or talk
“Hi. I’m Olivia’s father, Joe. I’m worried about how she’s doing with math. Can we find time to talk about it?”
Starting the conversation
“Thanks for talking with me. I’m concerned that Olivia is having trouble with math. We practice the addition and subtraction facts on the sheets she brings home. But she quickly forgets the facts we go over. What do you see when you work with her in class?”
“She also gets upset on days when there’s going to be a math quiz. Sometimes she doesn’t want to go to school. What do you make of that?”
“Can you tell me how Olivia’s doing with math overall? Is she keeping up? Is there anything specific she’s having trouble with?”
Following up on answers
“You mentioned she has difficulty with number sense. I’m not sure what that is. Can you give me an example?”
Asking about help
“What can help Olivia with math? Are there things you can do in class? What do you recommend we do at home to help her with math?”
Finishing the conversation
“Thanks for your help. I have a better idea of what’s happening with Olivia and math. Can we talk again after I have a chance to think about this?”
Some parents and caregivers have a hard time talking about their child’s challenges. They may not be comfortable talking to teachers. Or they might feel embarrassed that their child is struggling with math. But teachers can provide information and advice that nobody else can.
Do you have a parent-teacher conference coming up? Here’s a list of more questions you can ask.
Be clear and specific when you talk to the teacher. Ask questions.
Get ideas from the teacher for helping your child at home.
Ask for a follow-up conversation after you’ve had time to process the information.
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.
Bob Cunningham, EdM has been part of Understood since its founding. He’s also been the chief administrator for several independent schools and a school leader in general and special education.