5 Conversation Starters for Discussing Supports and Services With Teachers

By Bob Cunningham, EdM
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Schools offer a range of services to support students with learning and thinking differences. Supports can take the form of people, places, things and actions. Use these questions to make the teacher an ally in getting help for your child.

1. What area do you think we should target for improvement?

Try to reach agreement with the teacher about what area should be targeted for improvement. Difficulties in areas like homework and organization are usually obvious to both parents and teachers. They make good areas for opening communication and working toward shared goals. If you agree that a particular academic area, such as reading or math, is a big challenge for your child, you can start there, too.

2. What’s a reasonable goal to set for my child?

The goal should be specific. Try something like “My child will hand in completed homework four out of five days this week” instead of “My child will get better at handing in homework.” If the area is an academic skill, try “My child will correctly answer five double-digit addition problems” instead of “My child will learn double-digit addition.”

3. What supports and services at the school do you think will work best?

Discuss which support or service makes the most sense for your child right now. It’s important to talk to the teacher about people, places, things and actions the school will use to help your child. The discussion can also include anything you can do at home to help.

4. What time frame should we set?

Agree on a time to decide if the services and supports are working. Make the time frame no longer than two weeks. If the goal can’t be achieved in two weeks, choose a more specific goal that can.

5. We’ve tried simple supports and services. What should be the next step?

If the simple supports and services were a success, you can ask, “What other similar things might help him?” If the plan wasn’t successful, you can ask, “Are there other things at the school that could help him more?” These questions will allow the teacher to comfortably describe supports and services at the school in the context of your child.

About the Author

About the Author

Bob Cunningham, EdM 

serves as executive director of learning development at Understood.

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