How to Share Concerns with Your Child's Teacher
Throughout the school year, you or your child may have concerns that come up. Bringing up these concerns to your child’s teacher can feel daunting at times. However, if concerns are impacting your child’s ability to actively participate at school, it is important to talk about this with your child’s teacher. With fall conferences approaching, now can be a good time to share concerns and observations with your child’s teacher and also hear their observations too. Baby Center has a list of steps to follow to help you feel as comfortable and prepared as possible when bringing up a concern to your child’s teacher.
Before conferences or a meeting with your child's teacher:
Talk to your child first. Get more information from them about what has happened already and also what they want to happen next. While you and your child’s teacher may not be able to immediately or exactly do what your child desires, knowing what your child wants can help inform next steps. If you have a concern, share with your child that you will be meeting with their teacher to gain more information and create a plan.
Remain positive about your child’s teacher. Resist the temptation to say bad things about your child’s teacher in front of your child. If you or your child are frustrated with something that has happened, let your child know that you’re scheduling a meeting with their teacher to gain more information.
Prepare a list of questions. This will help you use the time that you have with your child’s teacher as effectively as possible. It can also help ensure that you don’t forget to ask anything.
Request a meeting face-to-face, if possible. Having a conversation in person, especially about a difficult topic, can help reduce the impact of misunderstandings. Meeting face-to-face allows for you to see the teacher’s facial expressions and body language. Similarly, the teacher is also able to see your facial expressions and body language.
During the meeting:
Arrive on time and prepared. Your child’s teacher may have meetings before and after yours.
Take a collaborative approach. Remember that you and your child’s teacher are a team. Having a positive relationship will be beneficial for all involved, especially your child. (See our previous blog post about how to develop a positive relationship with your child's teacher)
Ask curious questions. Asking for more information about something that is not working well for your child can be a more helpful approach. Sharing that your child is struggling with a certain homework assignment will probably result in a more positive outcome for all, then sharing that a homework assignment seems pointless.
Stay calm. Take a couple of deep breaths if you need to before sharing your concerns. It is nearly impossible for anyone to think clearly when they are angry.
Make a follow up plan. Create a plan together for next steps and set a follow up meeting to check in about this plan. A plan may include things that your child’s teacher will support at school, you will support at home, your child will do, or a combination of these.
After the meeting:
Send a thank you note. Thanking your child’s teacher for taking time out of their busy day to meet with you and hear your concerns can be a great way to continue a team approach.
Share the follow up plan with your child. Letting your child know that you and their teacher worked together to come up with a plan also continues to help instill a team approach. Letting your child know that there are next steps and sharing what those steps are will assure them that something is being done. Continue to check in with your child about their school day in general and also what they are noticing and/or doing differently with the plan in mind.
Follow up. Reach out to the teacher before the follow up meeting to share observations. This could be done informally with an email or a note. Share more information during the follow up meeting and be open to hearing your child’s teacher’s observations as well.