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.
Schools offer a range of services to support students with learning and attention issues. 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.
Was your child recently evaluated—either by the school, a private clinic or independent evaluator? It’s important to share the report with your child’s teacher (if the evaluator or your lawyer, if you have one, doesn’t object). Here are suggestions on how to start.
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
9 Tips for Working With Your Child’s Paraprofessional
5 Conversation Starters for Discussing Behavioral Problems With Teachers
Should I Go Straight to the Principal to Get Services?
5 Conversation Starters for Discussing Supports and Services With Teachers
How to Talk With Your Child’s Teacher About Too Much Homework
9 Tips for Talking With Your Child’s Teacher About Executive Functioning Issues
Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges.
Find technology to help your child.
Simulations and videos to let you experience your child’s world.
It’s ADHD, Dyslexia and LD Awareness Month. Learn about our live events, read inspiring stories and more.
Oct 9th at 12:00 pm
These great reads may resonate with kids with similar issues.
A safe place for you to connect with other parents like you.
Learn about the symptoms you might see when your child’s stimulant medication is wearing off.
Use color coding and checklists to get your child's backpack organized.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to your safe-senders list.
Child’s nickname is private and only you can see it.