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Helping Teachers Help Your Child With Learning Differences

Back to School Communication for the Best Year Ever!

Word on the street (and in the educational journals!) is that positive parent-teacher relationships contribute to your child’s success in school.  This may seem obvious and at the same time somewhat hard to manage, especially if your child has complex learning and attention difficulties.

Because teachers spend the majority of the day with your child they know him better than most people. They are important influencers in her life, and not just in the academic arena. Communication between teachers and parents can make the difference between an ok experience and an amazing experience for your child. Here are a few ways to help:

The Little Things

Your child’s teacher wants to hear from you and share with you. Don’t wait for this to happen formally at the Parent Teacher Conference. Let the teacher know things that might affect the day. Did your child not sleep well, was homework a struggle, was there a fight with a sibling or friend, were video game privileges taken away? Even positive things are important to share. A success on a community sports team, a new puppy, a fun overnight with a friend. These incidents are helpful for gauging expectations and behaviors during the school day.

In turn, you should learn what happened at school that might affect things at home. Was there a problem during recess, was a math lesson overwhelming, was their energy level very low or very high? You and your child’s teacher are in this together and having an open dialogue about day-to-day influences makes a difference.

The Big Things

Some parents may be private and not want to share much personal information about their family. However, there are big life changes that can have a significant effect on children and keeping the teacher in the loop helps with your child’s school experience. For example, divorce, remarriage, a new baby on the way, a serious illness, moving, loss of a job or death of a close relative are all significant life events that may generate behavior changes in your child. All of these events, even the positive ones, can produce stress in children (and parents as well). Even if you don’t see any differences at home, your child could be reacting in school. There is no need to provide a lot of details, but teachers can support a student best if you share the big occurrences as well as the daily happenings in your child’s life.

Paint a Picture of Your Child

Parents know their children best. Let their teachers know about them – what they love, what they hate, what triggers anxiety or even anger. Learning about your child’s interests and passions helps give the teacher conversation starters and benefits the development of the student-teacher relationship. It also offers topics that make learning easier. If your child struggles with reading, high-interest materials make a difference. The teacher can also structure rewards specific to your child’s interests when the lessons are difficult or less appealing.

Knowing what to expect from your child when things get hard is also helpful. Does your child tend to shut down and not talk? Does she get mad or just stop working? Maybe he loses focus and revs up. Helping children stay calm and focused is an important part of the teacher’s job and the more they understand about your child’s behaviors and motivators, the more they will be able to provide an environment that works best.

Remember, communication is key! Together, you and your teacher can make school a positive, successful, fun experience! So what kinds of information can your child’s teacher provide that could help you at home?

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