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, 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 five topics that often rise to the top.
Challenges you’ve seen at home
The start of any school year puts a lot of pressure on kids who learn and think differently. Talk with the teacher about any challenges or changes (including emotional or behavior challenges) that you’ve seen at home so you can start to work on solutions. Begin with something positive: “My child is really excited about your class.” Then bring up struggles you’ve seen.
Academic questions or concerns
Maybe you’re worried that your child has had an academic 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.
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 helps the teacher better understand your child.
If you’ve had negative experiences before, share ideas for how the teacher can be supportive. You might also offer to share with the class a book or celebration that honors your family’s traditions.
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.
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.
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.
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.