Trouble With Focus: Conversation Starters to Use With Your Child’s Teacher

By The Understood Team
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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 to your child’s teacher can help you understand what’s going on.

You can have the conversation in person, like at your parent-teacher conference. Or you can set up a different time to meet. (If you can’t meet in person, it’s OK to connect by email or over the phone.)

Some parents and caregivers find it hard to talk about their child’s trouble focusing. Some are uncomfortable talking to teachers. Others may worry their child will be labeled or that they’ll be blamed for their child’s difficulties.

But teachers can be great sources of information and ideas. Knowing what to say, and how to say it, can make it easier to have these talks. There are a few general rules of thumb to follow: Be clear, be specific, and ask questions.

And don’t stop asking until you feel like you have enough information. The whole point is to understand what’s happening with your child and what can help.

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 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: “He’s easily distracted at home, too. 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.

About the Author

About the Author

The Understood Team 

is made up of passionate writers, editors, and community moderators. Many of them learn and think differently, or have kids who do.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Bob Cunningham, EdM 

serves as executive director of learning development at Understood.

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