At a glance
If you don’t feel comfortable engaging the teacher, there are other school staff who can help.
Your child’s principal or school counselor can connect you to resources and support at school.
They can help you understand how your child’s difficulties affect learning.
Your child’s teacher is an important partner in helping your child with challenges. But teachers aren’t the only people at school you can turn to. The principal and the school counselor can help you find answers and get the right support for your child.
Here are some ways that principals and school counselors can help when you notice signs of learning and thinking differences in your child.
1. Help you make sense of your child’s challenges
Even if you know your child is struggling, you may not know exactly why or what it means. The school counselor or the principal can help you understand what you’re seeing — and how it might impact your child’s learning.
2. Make it easier to communicate with the teacher
You may not have an easy time talking with your child’s teacher, especially if you have concerns about your child. The school counselor or the principal can help you form a partnership with the teacher so you can work together to support your child.
3. Explain ways the teachers can help
Teachers can try different strategies or techniques in the classroom to help kids who have learning or behavior challenges. The school counselor or the principal can explain how these can work for your child.
4. Discuss ways the school can help
There are many ways schools can help kids with challenges. Kids who qualify might get specialized instruction. Your child’s school might also offer other types of support, like speech-language therapy or social skills groups. And there may be a social worker at school who can work with your child.
5. Explain the school evaluation process
Schools do free evaluations to see if students are eligible for special services. An evaluation can give you clarity about your child’s challenges. It can also shed light on your child’s strengths. Based on the results, the school will come up with a plan to meet your child’s needs. The school counselor or the principal can explain the process and answer any questions.
How to engage the principal or the school counselor
To connect with the school counselor or principal, you can email to set up a time to meet either in person or over the phone. (For the principal, you may need to go through an assistant.) Be specific about what you want to talk about. You may also want to mention why you’d rather talk with them instead of the teacher.
When you meet, give details about what you’ve been seeing and what others have said about your child. Ask lots of questions — and keep asking them if anything is unclear. You want to come away knowing what your next steps are to help your child thrive.
The principal or the school counselor can help you partner with your child’s teacher.
They can also explain the school evaluation process.
Be sure to keep asking questions until you’re clear on your next steps.
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About the author
About the author
Bob Cunningham, EdM serves as executive director of learning development at Understood.