Communicating with teachers
All too often parents feel that schools are not doing the right thing for their child. It is important to remember that teachers are humans, not miracle workers and have very pressured workloads. Very often they are not even the final decision makers with what happens in the classroom. That said, a dedicated and understanding teacher will make an enormous difference to the entire experience of school not just for your child, but also to you as the parent/carer.
The key to a successful working relationship with teachers is always communication. Sadly, the curriculum for teacher training is very hit and miss when it comes to SEND and even the most prepared teacher may not have previously worked with a child at the particular stage in development your child is at.
In primary schools when you know who your child’s main teacher(s) will be, send a welcome letter introducing yourself and your child and thanking them in advance for what they are going to do for your child during the following academic year. This doesn’t have to be a detailed letter at all but something that will help the teacher remember your child on the first day. You may feel that the teacher needs more detail. You can find our downloadable template for introducing your child to a new teacher, “All About Me (Primary)”, in the parents & carers section of our shop here.
Get in touch before the start of term
Communicating with the teacher before term starts is particularly important if you have a child in a mainstream school with no EHC plan or internal school plan. These children may not reach the threshold for these levels of support but it doesn’t mean that they don’t need any additional support.
For example, your child might be better seated in a certain point in the classroom or need a personal timetable. With notice these things can be implemented but there is nothing worse than on the second day of term being told that you need to move children as this is disruptive to the entire class and cuts into learning time.
Give it time
Remember, it takes every child time to settle back into the school routine after holidays, particularly the summer break. Teacher pupil relationships also take time to develop and thrive. There will always be teething problems on both sides. As long as there are no problems arising which are putting your child in danger (both physical and emotional) give a few weeks settling in period before being critical or congratulatory on the progress to date.
Send an open letter
In secondary school, follow the same pattern of advice for your child’s class teacher but it might also be worth sending an open letter to all staff that can be put in the staff room. Perhaps send it along with some biscuits for good measure! If there is a subject where you think your child might experience a specific challenge, then make sure you notify that teacher directly. Often non-curriculum subjects such as art, music and PE can pose additional challenges owing to the sensory experiences of these subjects. You can find our downloadable template for introducing your child to secondary school staff in our shop here.