I got thinking today about how helpful it is for children when their parents and teachers can communicate and collaborate well. I happened to run across two good examples among the families I work with. This is true even if your child does not have learning problems, but it is especially important for children who have ADHD, learning disabilities, or Asperger Syndrome. Here are some ways to go about building a good relationship that invites helpful communication.

1. Find out how your child’s teacher prefers to communicate. Most teachers now have their own e-mail addresses, and this is very convenient.

2. Keep your e-mails fairly brief and definitely business-like. You might have just finished a distressing homework ordeal, but it won’t help to unload on the teacher. After all, you need to work with this person.

3. If you have complicated issues to address, summarize them, and then ask when the two of you could sit down to talk about it. E-mail is useful for more matter-of–fact kinds of questions. For instance you might ask the teacher how long the homework should take, but if you want to advocate for a major change in work load, set up a time to meet.

4. Once you have addressed more complicated issues, e-mail is helpful for staying in touch and up to date on the shared concerns. It is helpful to let teachers know things like, “Johnny worked on his math for ten minutes, but he did not understand it. Can you help with this?” Another helpful message might be, “Sarah had a very difficult morning because she’s anxious about the school picture, and that is why she is late.”

There are other ways that parents and teachers can communicate to a child’s benefit. One is in teaching children to use assignment notebooks. Many elementary school age children with difficulties with organization benefit from having a teacher check the assignment notebook at the end of the day and think with the child about what she needs to take home in her backpack.

Then the parent can check the assignment notebook with the child before the homework starts to help with time planning. Lastly, when the child reports the homework is done, she can check with her parent again so they can see together that everything is done. If all of these steps are done without blaming and judgment, they can provide a very helpful framework in which the child can learn to organize her supplies and her work. If teacher and parent initial the notebook, then all know that all the steps are complete.

What have you found helpful in maintaining good school-home communication? I would be interested to know.

Author's Bio: 

Parent Coach and Licensed Psychologist, Carolyn Stone, Ed.D. (www.drcarolynstone.com) educates parents of children with learning disabilities, ADHD, Asperger Syndrome and anxiety about their children’s needs using humor and evidence-based practices. Parents learn new strategies through role play and homework. She teaches children to manage their anxiety and attention and to understand their learning styles. You can learn about Dr. Stone’s work from her blog at http://www.drcarolynstone.com/blog/.