How to talk to your child’s teacher about learning differences
When your child has differences that impact their learning, the beginning of the school year can be a great time to connect with their new teacher or teachers. However these differences present for your child (e.g., a diagnosed learning disorder, attention diagnosis or weakness related to math), partnering with their teacher can help ensure a unified approach to supporting your child. Important adults at home and school are a team whose goal is to help the child reach their highest potential. Approaching the new school year and your child’s new teacher with this in mind will hopefully start the year off on a positive note and also allow for future collaboration, as needed. Below are suggestions about how to connect with your child's teacher.
Request a meeting early in the school year. The beginning of the school year is an optimal time to connect with the teacher to help ensure that expectations are set appropriately. Some teachers may be open to meeting at the start of the new school year, while others may want to wait to get to know your child first.
Connecting with the teacher in person, if possible, is recommended so that nothing is lost in translation over email or over the phone.
Schedule a meeting. Having time set aside will help both you and your child’s teacher be more intentional and prepared for the conversation.
Ask the teacher what they know about your child’s differences. Some teachers may be well versed and others may want more information to better understand your child.
Be prepared to share how differences impact your child specifically. Your child’s teacher may have a mental picture of what differences may be like; however, differences vary from student to student. It is important for your child's teacher to know what differences look like for your child.
Share strategies that have worked well for your child in the past. This will give your child’s teacher ideas for how to use these or similar strategies in the classroom to best support your child.
Share strategies that have not worked well for your child in the past. This is equally important for your child’s teacher to know so that she or he can focus on what has worked.
If your child receives support through an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Accommodation Plan, remind your child’s teacher of accommodations that your child is entitled to receive. While your child’s teacher has hopefully read this, it can be helpful to remind them. Consider highlighting why accommodations make a difference for your child.
Share your child’s strengths with their teacher. Focusing on strengths and what comes easier for a child can also be used to support areas of difficulty. For example, a child who has reading differences may also have an amazing memory for information they hear. Using this strength, the child’s teacher could be more intentional about not only writing reminders or assignments on the board, but also reading them aloud.
Ask what you can do to help. Partnering with your child’s teacher allows for more open communication in the future.