Parents

What Your Child's New Teacher Must Know

08/27/2017 07:19am ET | Updated September 14, 2017

Who knows your child best of all?

You.

When your child goes back to school next week, the new teacher almost certainly will not have the first idea how to really manage your child’s behavior.

Therefore it is up to you to make sure the new teacher knows the facts.

Now I don’t want to fill you with dread, but I do want you to be prepared.

The new teacher will have read the paper work, studied notes from previous teachers and listened to staffroom chat. No doubt she (excuse the gender generalization, but it’s likely, isn’t it?) will have good intentions. She will be fresh from a relaxing summer holiday. But she will also have preconceived notions about your child. She may even be bloomin’ nervous what to expect.

Therefore I’d like to give you some suggestions how to make the start of the term successful for all:

1. Establish from the start a good relationship with the teacher. Don’t make it a “them and us” scenario particularly in front of your child. He (again the gender generalization – sorry!) will pick up on any negativity you feel and this can only be detrimental to how he feels about school.

2. Set up a meeting with the teacher and any assistants that may be in the class as soon as possible.

3. Make sure she knows exactly what your child’s difficulties are. Give a synopsis of the diagnosis or suspected diagnosis if relevant. Sometimes a label can help.

4. Let her know what has worked in the past. There have been successes and do not assume she knows about them. Maybe give her a checklist:

  • Small, simple steps explained clearly on a whiteboard or using pictures
  • Place to sit with no distractions
  • Opportunity to use laptop for longer pieces of writing
  • Visual resources to support understanding
  • Visual timetable
  • Sit on a wobble cushion or on a chair during carpet time
  • Hold a fiddle toy or blutak
  • Opportunity to write answers on a whiteboard instead of calling out
  • Be a monitor
  • Be in charge of younger children at playtime

5. Let her know what has not worked in the past. Things like detentions, getting cross, shouting. Do not be afraid to say it bluntly. It is up to you to be your child’s voice. If these things are not spelled out clearly you will be called in regularly for “a chat to discuss the problems.”

6. Let the teacher know what your child is good at and ask for these to be incorporated into his school day. Things like construction, cartoons, singing, problem solving. It is up to the school to work out how this could be done.

7. Make notes throughout the meeting. Then email your notes to the class teacher and copy in the SENCO. This is vital as you need a paper trail and evidence that you are requesting real, practical things to be done for your child.

8. Request a Home-School Communication book to be set up. Make it clear that you would like this to be a communication that is for positive reasons only and ways to help and support your child. It should not be a moan fest. This only needs to be an exercise book with the day of the week at the top of each page. Simple, nothing fancy.

9. Request regular meetings to discuss progress of his behavior. The assumption here is that there will be progress not problems. These meetings could be twice in a half term.

10. Please do not put the responsibility on your child to behave. If he could behave easily, don’t you think he would do it? Don’t you think he would love to be less fidgety, less impulsive, and socially more aware? He’d love friends and to be praised and rewarded by the teacher. So please don’t let your last words every day be “be good.” Instead say “have a happy day.” It is up to the teacher to create an environment that is successful for your child. It is not up to your child to put all his energies into keeping still.

11. It is totally the responsibility of the teacher to find the way into your child’s world. However, you should be involved and be ready to give your input. Don’t feel you’re being a nuisance. If the things you suggest help with your child’s behavior then the teacher will be grateful and breathe a sigh of relief.

Print this out so you’ll be armed!

Until next time, here’s to a calm and happy start to the term.