Trouble with focus: Conversation starters to use with your child’s teacher

By The Understood Team

At a glance

  • Talking about your child’s trouble with focus helps you understand what’s happening.

  • Your child’s teacher is a great source of information and ideas.

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

If your child struggles with focus at home, you may wonder why — and if it’s happening at school, too. Talking with your child’s teacher can help you understand what’s going on. It can also help you and the teacher work together to support your child.

You can have the conversation in person, by email, or on the phone. Your parent-teacher conference is another good time to talk about focus challenges.

There are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Be clear.
  • Be specific.
  • Ask questions.
  • Ask follow-up questions.

These sample conversation starters can make it easier to talk about your concerns and start getting answers about your child’s trouble with focus.

Asking to meet or talk: “Hi. I’m Jordan’s grandmother, Claudia. Jordan lives with me, and I’m worried he’s having trouble with focus. I’d like to set up a time to talk about it.”

Starting the conversation: “Thanks for talking with me. I’m concerned about Jordan’s focus. It can take him hours to finish his homework because he sits there doodling or just staring off into space. He doesn’t seem unhappy, though. Is this something I should be worried about? Are you seeing similar things at school?” 

Sharing information: “I’m not sure if this is part of it, but Jordan often drops what he’s doing and switches to something else. He’ll put the leash on the dog to take her out, and then suddenly disappear. I’ll find him texting while the dog is waiting at the door. I used to think he was being lazy. But maybe he just has a hard time focusing on chores, too.”

Getting information: “I haven’t heard from teachers that Jordan doesn’t pay attention, but I’m wondering how he is in class. Does he usually focus when you’re teaching? Does he ever drift off the way he does at home?”

Following up on answers: “Can you give me an example of what distracts Jordan in class? What does he do?”

Asking about help: “What can help Jordan with focus? Are there things you do in class when he stops focusing? Can you suggest strategies we can try at home?”

Finishing the conversation: “Thanks so much for your help. I have a better idea of what’s happening with Jordan and what to look for. Can we check in after I’ve had time to think about this to talk about what happens next?”

There are lots of ways you can help your child improve focus at home. Explore these focus tips.

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

    The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

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