5 Topics to Go Over With Teachers Early in the School Year
Bob Cunningham, EdM
Families might not want to bother teachers early in the school year. But parent-teacher communication is more important than ever this year. Talking with your child’s teacher early can set the stage for strong communication all year long, no matter what school looks like. Here are some topics to get that conversation going.
1. Classroom Priorities
Teachers have different priorities for their students. Some make class participation a top priority. Others prioritize getting work done. Some really focus on building strong relationships with students and their families. Getting a sense of the teacher’s priorities early on can help you talk about what that means for your child.
Ask: “What are your top three priorities this year? And what would be helpful to know to help my child in those focus areas?”
You may not have specific concerns. Or you may be worried about “COVID slide.” Either way, it’s a good idea to talk to the teacher about academic expectations. It’s also important to give your input about your child’s strengths and challenges. Shared expectations help ensure that your child doesn’t get mixed messages.
Ask: “Are my child’s academic skills strong enough to move to the next activity? What can we work on at home to help?”
3. Social-Emotional Learning
Social interaction can have a big impact whether or not kids thrive at school. It’s also a tough area for teachers to assess and address at the beginning of the year, or in a remote setting. Share your observations, concerns, and thoughts. Be specific about the interactions and experiences your child has had.
Ask: “How do you work on social-emotional learning with your students?”
4. Getting and Staying Organized
If your child struggles with organization and time management, the teacher will notice it pretty quickly. It’s also likely to be the first thing that gets in your child’s way at school. It’s important for you and the teacher to be on the same page about how your child struggles. By talking it through, you can decide what you’ll each do to support your child.
Ask:“Do you think my child will be able to handle the work? Is my child missing cues you’re giving about transitions?”
5. What You’ve Seen at Home
The start of any school year puts a lot of pressure on kids who learn and think differently. This year especially, starting school may cause a lot of anxiety. Talk with your child’s teacher about any school-related challenges you’ve had at home to help get a jump on solutions. Start off saying something positive: “My child is really excited about your class.” Then bring up any difficulties you’ve noticed.
Ask: “How can we work together to make this school year smoother for my child?”
You can also use this one-page download to update the teacher on how your child is doing.
Back-to-School Update: Tell Teachers How Your Child Is Doing