Whether your child has been diagnosed with a specific learning disorder or is displaying learning difficulties at school, it is important that parents and teachers keep the lines of communication open to ensure the best outcomes for each student. Good communication is the responsibility of both parents and teachers. Parents can be active in this process by keeping teachers informed as well as seeking information about their child’s progress in the classroom.
Parents can assist in the communication process by:
- Informing the teacher about their child’s difficulties and strategies that have been found to be effective;
- Becoming an active participant in the student’s education;
- Offering the teacher support in whatever way works best for him/her;
- Always making an appointment when you want to discuss something regarding the student;
- Working in partnership with the teacher;
- Adopting a collaborative problem-solving style approach.
It is always appropriate to ask questions about the student’s progress at school including questions about their academic progress, homework, general behaviour, and social-emotional well-being. However, it is important to carefully choose a time to ask these questions. Often the best approach is to ask the teacher when the most appropriate time would be or to set up a formal meeting. When informing the teacher/s about the student’s learning disability or difficulties, it is useful to give them information about the student in a brief format, which may include a verbal discussion followed up with an email or a summary page outlining key pieces of information. Sometimes just handing over the student’s assessment report can be impractical as a teacher has limited time to sit and read through a lengthy document. As briefly as possible, you should let the student’s teacher know:
- Any of the student’s formal assessment results that may affect their learning;
- Interventions, therapy or tutoring that has been done in the past or that is currently happening;
- Any important family or life events that may affect the student’s learning in the classroom;
- Important medical information;
- The student’s strengths and areas of interest. These can sometimes be used to engage the student in activities;
- The student’s specific areas of difficulty and activities in which he/she may need support;
- Strategies that you think work for your child or that a previous teacher, tutor or therapist has indicated works well in the classroom;
- Any upcoming appointments that will occur during school time.
This information will be particularly important if the student is changing schools, starting a new school year with a different teacher, or when there has been a recent assessment or change in the student’s situation that the teacher should be informed about. Having this information on hand can also be useful if a relief teacher takes the class.
Who to talk to?
If you feel your child is experiencing difficulties in the classroom or is not getting the support they need, it is always best to go directly to your child’s teacher first with the aim of working together to come up with a solution that will work for you, the teacher, and most importantly, your child. It may also be beneficial to ask the teacher who supports them within the school and suggest arranging a meeting with those additional staff. These people may include the School Psychologist, the Deputy Principal or Principal, the Year Coordinator (Secondary School), a Learning Support/SAER Coordinator, a literacy or numeracy support teacher, and other teachers.