There is almost always some level of communication between parents and their child’s school; however, this level often increases if your child has an independent education plan (IEP) or receives special education services.
It can be stressful to maintain an effective, open line of communication with the school on top of daily life. Here are some important tips you can use to communicate.
Five things to remember
Whether you communicate with your child’s classroom teacher, the IEP team, or other members of the school staff, the following tips can help:
- Understand your child’s goals: Having a thorough understanding of your child’s personal and IEP goals will help you to monitor and discuss your child’s progress with the staff and administration. Even though your child’s IEP document includes their goals, understanding them can help you explain your child’s needs.
- Keep things professional: It is easy to let emotions take over when it comes to your children, but it is important to remain calm and keep a professional tone in all interactions with your child’s school.
- Keep a record: As the Pacer Center states, communication goes both ways. Listen to what your child’s teacher or school has to say and take notes. It may also help to keep any written notices or documents you receive in a file. Keeping a record of events and documents can help you understand the big picture, and provide a reference if you have questions about your child’s education or face disagreements with the school.
- Focus on your child: Your child comes first, and communication on both sides should revolve around your child’s needs and how those needs can be met. This is especially important if you face disagreements. When communicating, it helps to frame the conversation around your child and be professional and specific. For example, instead of sending an email to a teacher that says “you’re not helping my child”, a parent could write, “my child has an accommodation to take tests in a separate room, but they mentioned that they did not receive that accommodation in this class last week.”
- Know your rights: It is important to know the basics of the laws that protect your child, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), in order to be informed and feel confident in any interactions with your child’s school. Knowing these laws will also help you advocate for your child effectively.
Communication is critical in all aspects of life, but it is not always easy. Keeping these tips in mind can help you and your child make the most out of your relationship with the school.