While your child’s teacher knows how to teach math, reading, science, social studies and more, there’s one subject in which you are the expert: your child.
One of the keys to your child’s success in school is for you and the teacher to have open communication. Deciding which things to tell your child’s teacher about can be a little tricky. Here are five things you should definitely talk about.
Your child’s teacher needs to know about health issues that can manifest during and impact his school day. If your child has food allergies, asthma or a chronic condition like diabetes or a seizure disorder, that should be on the top of your list to discuss, particularly if it means the teacher or school will need to make accommodations for an allergen free zone, have an inhaler on standby or know the signs of an impending crisis.
It’s also important to inform your child’s teacher if he has any developmental delays or has been diagnosed with a condition or takes medication that may affect his concentration or behavior. If, at any time during the year, your child is on a short course of medication that has side effects (like sleepiness or stomach upset), it’s worth giving the teacher a head’s up.
Talking about family issues is one of the less comfortable things to tell your child’s teacher about, for both you and the teacher. A recent or impending divorce should probably be disclosed (the fact of it, not the details) because it can have an effect on your child’s mood and behavior. Remarriage, the birth of a new sibling or a death in the family should be mentioned too, along with any accompanying changes in your child’s behavior you may have noticed at home.
Custody issues, while tricky to talk about, also need to be mentioned to your child’s teacher. Sometimes it’s as simple as telling the school that you and your ex have shared custody and either of you can pick him up. Complicated child custody arrangements need to be discussed in-depth. If there’s a no-contact order or you have sole custody, you’ll also need to provide the school with a copy of the legal paperwork.
You may think that because you don’t have a degree in education, you don’t know anything about your child’s learning style, but you’ve certainly seen it in action.
Does your child seem to figure things out better when there are pictures or writing involved? Does he need you to show him how to do something before he gets it? Does he do better when hears the directions? The answers to these questions can provide the teacher with good information about what techniques would be helpful in teaching your child.
Many people confuse temperament with personality, but the two differ. Your child’s temperament are the innate traits or characteristics that he has shown from very early on in his life and have stayed pretty much the same in all situations. Temperament includes things like how active your child is, how easily he adapts to new situations, how much sensory input he can take and his typical mood.
Many children are what’s known as “slow-to-warm,” meaning it takes them some time to get comfortable with new situations and people and change may be upsetting to them. A slow-to-warm child needs be approached differently in the classroom than an “easy” child who is typically more adaptable, positive and eager to try out new things.
Your child’s personality is affected by his temperament, but, for the teacher’s purposes, is more about how those temperamental traits affect his behaviors and responses to situations.
For example, your child may have a “difficult” temperament, but also be very extroverted. So, despite his tendencies toward negativity and inflexibility, in the right situation your child may be very social and talkative.
It’s important to talk to your child’s teacher not only about the positive pieces of his personality, but the more troublesome ones, too. If your child has an explosive response to being disciplined or certain topics make him very anxious, the teacher needs to know in order to have the tools in place to help your child.