Have an Academic Concern? Here’s How to Effectively Communicate with Your Child’s Teacher

Parent involvement is important for a student’s success. When parents and teachers work together, everyone can better understand a child’s needs.

Whether you’re heading to a parent-teacher conference this fall or need to reach out to one of your child’s teachers about an academic concern, this blog explains what to say and how to work together to get to the root of any school-related problem.

Talk to the teacher when you suspect an issue

If you see over time, there is a difficulty surrounding school, reach out to your child’s teacher.

take a team approach and communicate with teacher

Keep in mind, you may have noticed the problem before the teacher does

“Oftentimes teachers aren’t aware of what goes on at home, especially when it comes to homework,” explained Ann Dolin, M.Ed., Educational Connections Founder and former Fairfax County Public School 6th Grade Teacher.

By contacting the teacher and alerting him or her about an academic issue you’re seeing outside of class, you can work together to come up with a solution before it turns into a bigger problem.

“Teachers are your allies, and they can help you understand the root of any problem,” explained Dolin.

Use the words, “I’ve noticed…”

Dolin recommends telling the teacher exactly what you’re witnessing at home. Use the words, “I’ve noticed…”

For example, “I’ve noticed Sarah’s having a really hard time completing this math packet. Do you have any advice for us?”

“Using ‘I’ve noticed…’ is a lot more collaborative than saying, ‘That math packet you sent home… it’s really awful. Sarah can’t do it,’” explained Dolin. “That puts the teacher on the defensive.”

If you stick to what you’ve observed, that will be helpful to the teacher, and it will make it feel like you’re on the same team.

Take a team approach to academics

After speaking with your child’s teacher, you will likely find that your child’s academic problems are the result of one of two things.

  1. They’re subject-related, and the student doesn’t fully understand the concepts.
  2. They’re related to weak executive function skills, including organization, time management, and study skills. 
confused student

If the academic problems are specific to a subject, like math or science, the guardian should decide if they are the best person to assist. With elementary school students, parents often feel comfortable helping with schoolwork, but as the content gets harder or if academics are causing a strain on the parent-child relationship, they should consider outside help in the form of a study group, homework center, or professional tutor

“Often we think that children with weak organization and study skills can just flip a switch and do better if they just try harder or focus more. But the reality is these skills are more challenging for them because the frontal lobes of their brains aren’t fully developed yet, and they will need direct instruction to learn the executive function skills they need for school success,” said Dolin.

If you’re worried your child may not have the study habits in place to advance academically, we’re happy to help you. Click below to schedule a call.