6 ways you can help the teacher understand your child
A child psychologist's tips on starting off the new year right
Every child’s greatest advocate should be the parent. After all no one knows your child, better than you. So as the school year begins, I thought I would offer some tips for talking to your child’s teacher and hopefully making the school year as comfortable as possible:
1. Health. Often, new teachers don’t know about your child’s health history. Many kiddos have severe nut allergies and teachers need to be aware of those food allergies, as well as if your child needs special medication or an EpiPen® injection. You should let your teacher know if your child has asthma, is diabetic or has any other serious health condition.
2. Educational Diagnoses. Teachers may not know your child has been diagnosed with a learning difference, dyslexia or an attention deficit problem. This is an opportunity to let teachers know about a 504 plan or IEP for your child. This is also a great time to let your teacher know what your child’s learning style is such as whether they are an auditory, visual or kinetic learner. Sharing your child’s areas of strengths and weaknesses is also helpful.
3. Emotional and family. Inform your teacher of any emotional factors that may impact your child such as divorce, death, illness or a parent being stationed overseas. It’s helpful for teachers to know the emotional factors that are impacting your child’s life which may help your teacher to understand and communicate better with your child.
4. Don’t settle for orientation. Teachers are bombarded with information at meet and greets during orientation. It’s hard to keep everyone and everything straight. My advice is to set up a conference with your child’s teacher as early as possible. One teacher told me she found it really helpful when parents provided a list of bullet points that included helpful information about their child, including the health and educational diagnoses, the strengths and weaknesses of the child, how the student learns the best, what the student responds to best when giving direction or correction and some points about the student’s social and personality style. Go in and set up an appointment one on one, especially if your child has special needs or considerations.
5. Be a team player. Every teacher I have spoken with has told me what they appreciate more than anything is for the parent to ask the teacher, ‘how can we help you? What information do you want to know?’ Most teachers prefer that team approach.
6. Be honest with yourself about your child. This is sometimes the most difficult tip for parents, but it’s so important. Know your child’s strengths and weakness. One of our biggest problems in today’s society is not teaching accountability. Set that example. Make sure your child knows his or her responsibility. Teachers have a difficult enough job without always blaming them, the school or another child. Please make sure you know how your child contributed to a situation and then take appropriate action from there.
Of course every child is different, and special, which makes communication between you and your teacher so important in having a great school year.
About the author
Lisa Elliott is a licensed psychologist and clinic manager of Cook Children’s Behavioral Health, located at 3201 Teasley Lane, Ste. 202, Denton, TX 76210. To make an appointment, call 940-484-4311. Cook Children’s Psychology provides care focused on children’s behavior, from ages 3 years through 17.