Reading trouble: Conversation starters to use with your child’s teacher

By Gail Belsky

At a glance

  • Talking through your child’s trouble with reading can help you find answers.

  • Your child’s teacher can give you a better idea of what’s happening.

  • Having the words to say can make the conversation easier.

If your child is having trouble with reading, it’s important to talk with your child’s teacher. By sharing information, you and the teacher can get a better understanding of what’s going on and what might help. These conversations can happen in person, by phone, or by email. Parent-teacher conferences are also a good time to share your concerns.

But what exactly can you say about reading struggles? And how do you say it? First, when you talk with the teacher, make sure to be clear and specific. Ask questions and follow-up questions, if you need to.

Here are sample conversation starters to make it easier to talk with the teacher about reading struggles.

Asking to meet or talk

“Hi. I’m Will’s mom, Gina. I’m worried about Will’s reading, and I’d like to set up a time to talk about it.”

Starting the conversation

“Thanks for talking with me. I’m concerned Will is having trouble with reading. I know you told us that it should take kids half an hour to complete reading assignments. But they take Will twice as long. Does this mean there’s a problem?”

Sharing information

“This might not be related, but Will gets angry when I remind him to read, and he puts it off until the last minute. At first, I thought he was just trying to get out of doing work. But could it be more than that?”

Getting information

“Can you tell me how Will’s doing with reading? I know there’s a lot that goes into reading. Is there anything specific he has trouble with? Does it take him longer than it should?”

Following up on answers

“I know you’ve mentioned reading fluency before, but I’m not sure what it means. Can you give me an example?”

Asking about help

“What can help Will with reading? Are there things you can do in class, or is there someone else at school who can give him some extra help? Should I be doing something at home?”

Finishing the conversation

“Thanks so much for your help. I have a much better idea of what’s happening and what to look for. Once I’ve had time to think about this, can I check in with you to talk about what happens next?”


It can be hard to talk about problems with reading. Some parents and caregivers worry that they or their child will be judged. Others may feel uncomfortable talking with teachers in general. But teachers can be a great source of information and guidance.

Key takeaways

  • Be clear and specific when you talk to the teacher. Ask questions.

  • Ask follow-up questions if you need more information or don’t understand.

  • Find out what’s happening in class and what you can do at home.

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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

    Bob Cunningham, EdM serves as executive director of learning development at Understood.