The adage is true, it’s not what we say, but how we say it. This applies well when speaking with your child’s teacher. To improve communication with your child’s teacher, try using these sentence starters:
“I’m concerned about my child’s ….” - Saying I’m concerned reduces confrontations. Using “I” statements instead of ‘you’ statements communicates that you want to work together as partners.
”Help me understand….”- Saying help me understand is a constructive way to move a challenging conversation forward. It also shows that you are listening and engaged.
“What was the goal of this assignment?” - It is important that you and teacher are working towards the same goals. You may also want to add, “Do you have any suggestions for other activities my child could do to work on those skills?"
“Have you considered…." - This is a polite way of sharing information that will help the teacher understand your child better. This is a great way to phrase a question without making the teacher defensive.
“I’ve noticed…” - This is a great lead-in, as it allows you to share information from a parent perspective. For example, you may say, “I’ve noticed that my child’s comprehension improves when they read aloud. Is there any way that my child can do this at school?”
“It seems as if she is struggling with……. when…." - Seems and appears are useful words when trying to figure out a child’s strengths and needs. This statement allows you to safely share information. For example, you could say, “She appears to not complete her homework when the assignment involves multi-part directions.”
“Her IIP recommends that…….how is that working in the classroom?” - This is a great way to ask about accommodations without making the teacher defensive. Remember - you want to work with the teacher on shared goods.
“How can I help?” - Teachers have a classroom full of students to teach. These 4 words let the teacher know that you’re willing to play a role in your child’s education and can definitely strengthen your relationship.
About Elaine Caswell
At Elaine’s core, she is a teacher. Throughout her diverse roles as a classroom teacher, school principal, guidance counselor, superintendent, Director of Education and Director of Children’s Services at the Ministry of Education, Elaine has taught, mentored, built strong relationships with families and facilitated individual, group and systemic change.
About Louise Burridge
Louise is an occupational therapist. As one of the first occupational therapists to work in Saskatchewan schools, Louise has worked with numerous families to foster growth and development, facilitate accessibility and support inclusive education. Louise has continued this work as a Student Services Coordinator, at the Ministry of Education, and Director of Professional Practice with the Saskatchewan Society of Occupational Therapists. She now owns and operates OuTcomes Therapy in Regina.