Working Effectively with Professionals

What can you do if your child’s behavior is causing problems at school?

Working effectively with educators and other professionals to deal with your child’s behavior challenges can be difficult. But research has shown parent involvement is an integral part of a child’s school success. Remaining calm and using effective communication skills can help you work with school professionals to address problems and find solutions.

Some things to keep in mind as you’re working with school professionals:

  • Keep your cool. People naturally become defensive when a situation becomes adversarial.
  • Focus on the positives. Acknowledge what has been done well.
  • Plan ahead: be clear about what you’d like to see happen.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Ask questions until you fully understand.
  • Clarify what you’ve heard and what you’ve said.
  • Keep the focus on meeting your child’s needs. Don’t try to place blame.
  • If you’ve lost your cool, be prepared to apologize and move forward.
  • Come prepared with ideas. Present options in a collaborative way; for example, say, “we can” instead of “you should.” Say, “yes, and…” instead of “yes, but…”
  • Work to come to a solution that is agreeable for both parties.
  • Follow up with any commitments you make.

HOW TO START

Be mindful of your emotional state when you communicate with the school. Calm and clear communication is the key to finding solutions for these challenges. If you are too upset to communicate at the moment, you can always email or send a note to the teacher to arrange a time to talk the next day.

Request a meeting or a phone conversation with your child’s teacher so you can clearly understand what is happening and what is expected. In that conversation you should also share what you know about your child and possible reasons for certain behaviors. Always remember there are two sides to any story, so be willing to listen. Be sure to take notes and check for understanding as you talk. Find out what has already been done by the teacher to manage the behavior, and then discuss other options. You may also need to have a similar conversation with the principal or others who work with your child.

REMEMBER

If your child is on an IEP or 504 plan, you may need to request a team meeting to address your concerns. The IEP team should consider conducting a Functional Behavior Assessment and developing  a Behavior Intervention Plan to help your child modify behaviors as part of this process.

The Least Restrictive Behavior Intervention Technical Assistance Manual is an excellent resource for finding interventions to use.

Information Sheets

Linked Websites

Discussing a Problem in a Letter

Sometimes your child may have a particular problem at school. You may have talked to your child’s teacher about this concern. The two of you may have written notes back and forth or talked on the phone. If it seems like nothing is happening to resolve your concern, then you may want to write a formal letter. Perhaps the informal communication hasn’t been as clear as you think. Maybe you feel that the seriousness of your concern isn’t fully understood. By writing a letter, the school will learn that you consider the matter to be an important one that needs to be addressed.

Communicating with your Child’s School

This publication from Cadre gives ideas how to communicate successfully. If you have a child who is receiving special education services, you’re more than likely to be very involved with your child’s school and teachers — including planning, reviewing, and assessing your child’s educational program. Over time, you will learn a lot about the special education process and how to communicate and negotiate on your child’s behalf. While your knowledge, skill, and confidence will naturally increase, there are some specific communication skills that can help you to be successful in developing and maintaining a strong partnership with your child’s school.

Communicating Effectively with Your Gifted Child’s School

This article provides parents with a wealth of advice on communicating with their gifted students’ teachers.

How Can I Work with My Child’s Preschool on Her Behavioral Issues?

Adjunct professor Virginia Gryta discusses this subject on understood. org.

The Benefit of Parents and Teachers Working Together: Everyone wins when parents and faculty are allies

From verywellfamily.com, this article emphasizes the importance of communication and includes ideas how to deal with tough issues. 

Ten Ways to Improve Communications with Parents About Their Child’s Behavior

This article from a teacher’s perspective from Educators World can be helpful for parents as well. Parent involvement raises student achievement, much-publicized research says, but there is less attention on enlisting families to diminish aggravating and time-gobbling behavior problems. Yet some experts believe that’s where there might be a big payoff – and a key ingredient is teacher communications home.

Planning for a School Meeting About Your Child’s Behavior Needs
Knowing what to do when you meet with the school about your child’s behavior is very helpful. This information sheet from PACER.org gives parents ideas how to plan effectively.

Webinars

We at the Utah Parent Center hope this information will be helpful to you in understanding your child’s behavior and assist you in working with school professionals. Be sure to access our website www.utahparentcenter.org to review our resources. If you have concerns or questions, please give us a call and speak with one of our knowledgeable parent consultants.

230 West 200 South, Suite 1101 Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Phone: 801.272.1051
Toll-Free in Utah: 1.800.468.1160
Email: info@utahparentcenter.org

This page was funded by a grant from Interagency Outreach Training Initiative at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities.