By Geri Coleman Tucker
Sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it. If you want to effectively communicate with your child’s teacher, try these sentence starters.
Saying “I’m concerned about my child’s progress in math” is a lot less confrontational than saying, “You need to do more to help my son with math.” Using “I” statements instead of “you” statements can let the teacher know that you want to work together as partners and that you’re not playing the blame game.
Even in moments when you disagree with a teacher, saying “Help me understand” is a constructive way to move a conversation forward. It also makes it clear that you’re listening and engaged.
It’s important to make sure you and the teacher are working toward the same goals. Clarifying those goals is key. It’s also important to emphasize that you share those goals. A good follow-up to this question would be to ask, “Do you have any suggestions for other activities my child could do to work on those skills?”
This is a polite way to share information the teacher might not know. It’s also a good way to ask questions without making the teacher feel defensive.
This phrase allows you to share information and respectfully acknowledge that parents and teachers often see children from different perspectives. For example, you could say, “I’ve noticed my child can retell a story with more detail after she reads it aloud. Are there opportunities for reading aloud during classroom reading instruction?”
Seems and appears are useful words when trying to reach a shared understanding about a child’s strengths and needs. These words allow you to present your take on the situation without making a harmful or incorrect assumption. For example, you could say, “It seems as if my child has a harder time showing what she knows when the worksheets mix operations” or “She appears to not complete homework when the assignments involve multi-part directions.”
This is a good way to ask about accommodations without accusing the teacher of failing to provide them. Remember the goal is to work together. Avoid making assumptions that could damage your relationship.
Teachers have a classroom full of students. These four words let the teacher know you’re willing to play a role in your child’s education rather than just leaving it up to her.
Most teachers expect and welcome communication via email. But you should be careful about what you say and how you say it in the email.
Is your child with learning and attention issues having social or emotional problems at school? Whether you brought concerns to the teacher’s attention or you’re responding to her concerns, talk specifics. Here are some questions to ask.
Geri Coleman Tucker is a freelance writer and editor and a former deputy managing editor for USA Today.
Bob Cunningham, M.A., Ed.M.
Jan 04, 2014
Jan 04, 2014
Conversation Starters to Use With Your Child’s Teachers
Checklist: Questions to Ask at Your Parent-Teacher Conference
Should I Go Straight to the Principal to Get Services?
14 Tips for Making the Most of Parent-Teacher Conferences
Paraprofessionals: Who They Are and What They Do
Download: Contact List for Who to Call at Your Child’s School
One expert shares why Common Core can be frustrating for parents, and what can make that easier.
Watch this video to find out which ADHD symptoms are often overlooked in girls—and why.
Here are some questions you can ask—both before and during an IEP meeting.
Why scientists think some kids may to take longer to process information.
Feb 19th at 12:00 pm
Find out how this mom answers the tough questions on school applications.
These 11 titles can help kids grow and succeed despite their challenges.
From following directions to signing cards, get ideas from an occupational therapist.
Learn more about this skill and how you can help nurture it in your child.
Sign up for your weekly email newsletter, for you and your family.
This email is already subscribed to Understood newsletters. If you haven't been receiving anything, add email@example.com to your safe-senders list.
Child’s nickname is private and only you can see it.