Communication is key! In order to ensure your child does not miss out on any important services, it’s important to keep your child’s teachers in the loop, but how do you balance between over and under communicating? Here are some tips to help you navigate.
When it comes to the IEP, always document! Keep a communication log and document communication you send and receive from the school. There are a few ways you can do this, depending on your comfort level.
Create an automatic filter and category within your email. HERE is a link detailing how to do this for Gmail. This will force any email with keywords you’ve pre-determined to automatically be categorized under a special category. For example, you can create a category called IEP and then create filter words such as IEP, your child’s name, the school name, etc. You can also automatically send any emails from a certain person to this category. (You can always remove them later if they do not pertain.)
Keep a paper log and document any phone calls you have with the school or teachers. Be sure to include the date, time and the key details from the conversation. Follow up with an email stating what you understood from the phone call, this way it will always be in writing.
Use IEP&Me’s contact log! Sign up to join the waiting list HERE. We are launching soon!
Start communication early, and continue it often. Introduce yourself to your child’s teacher in the beginning of the school year. You can even request a meeting with them. Share your child’s strengths and areas of growth, what types of accommodations are helpful, how to de-escalate them and when you are available for communication.
Provide your phone number and email on an index card and encourage them to put your number in their phone as “John’s Parent” or “Emily’s Mom”.
Ask them what type of communication they prefer, email, phone or text. Let them know what types of updates you’d like and ask them if this is possible. Follow up by sending the same amount of updates. For example, if you’re request a Friday email to let you know how things went and what to expect in the next week, you can email them on Thursday's letting them know what your child enjoyed that week and that they’re looking forward to next week’s lessons. Keep in mind that as students move up in grades, teachers are responsible for more and more students - so don’t expect something that the teacher couldn’t realistically do for every student.
Partner with the Teacher. Your child’s teacher wants your child to succeed, but not every teacher has been trained in everything. Offer resources like articles or trainings, blogs, books, etc. Keep things positive by reminding them what does work for your child. If things aren’t working or your child is not doing well in school, ask what they teacher has tried and then offer suggestions for what else they can try. Think outside the box.
Encourage Self-Advocacy from your Child. Explain your child’s disability to them and ask them what types of things help them when they are in school. Take note of what helps them at home and encourage them to ask their teacher for the same accommodations. Ask them specific questions about their day to avoid the typical one word answers.
What other tips do you have to increase effective communicating between parents and teachers? Let us know in the comments below!