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Communication Tips For Parents and Teachers

Parents and teachers offer advice on the best ways to achieve school success for your child with arthritis.

By Nancy Parsons

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Most teachers have had no first-hand experience contending with the medical problems of the children they have in their classrooms. Teachers need help – your help. And you need theirs.

Ideally, teachers welcome parents’ ideas, and parents respect teachers’ ideas. Each of us can help make this idea a reality by communicating in ways that reduce defensiveness.

Both teachers and parents need support and recognition. You can create a supportive climate by recognizing the talents of your child's present and past teachers. Have you told your child's teacher what you appreciate about his or her work? Why not write a note now to your child's current teacher or one who helped your child in the past? It's difficult to predict the knowledge and skills our children will need during their lifetimes, but examples of cooperation and concerned involvement will certainly make lasting, positive impressions.

Make it clear to your child's teacher early in the year that you want to be an active participant in the child's education and that you're interested in being helpful. This is the cornerstone for cooperative communication.

Parents should …

  • have reasonable expectations
  • educate teachers about arthritis and some simple, effective accommodations
  • communicate about your child’s level of disability and her feelings about the disease and the necessary accommodations
  • respectfully advocate on your child’s behalf – know your child’s rights

Teachers should …

  • remain flexible and open to adjusting teaching strategies
  • make modifications to the classroom environment when necessary
  • assess how the student is physically handling the classroom and communicate with parents
  • be sensitive that the child might not publicly want special attention

Advice for Teachers From Parents

  • Help parents to feel comfortable at the meeting. School can stir up unhappy memories for some adults.
  • Be flexible about the meeting time and tell how long it will last. We all have busy schedules.
  • Know the child's strengths and weaknesses. Understand that parents have deep feelings about their child, even though there are many other students in the class.
  • Be well prepared and give specific examples of the child's progress.
  • Listen and ask questions.
  • Avoid educational buzzwords that parents don't understand.
  • Suggest practical ways to work with the child at home.
  • Explain tests and standardized scores.
  • Let parents know about any special services the school offers.
  • Realize that conferences with team specialists can overwhelm parents. Knowing in advance what the meeting is about and allowing us to bring someone else along will help.
  • Establish ways to keep both parents in a divorced family informed.
  • Respect the confidentiality of any sensitive information parents may share.
  • Leave parents with a feeling that the child can succeed.
 

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Communication Tips For Parents and Teachers

Parents and teachers offer advice on the best ways to achieve school success for your child with arthritis.

By Nancy Parsons


Most teachers have had no first-hand experience contending with the medical problems of the children they have in their classrooms. Teachers need help – your help. And you need theirs.

Ideally, teachers welcome parents’ ideas, and parents respect teachers’ ideas. Each of us can help make this idea a reality by communicating in ways that reduce defensiveness.

Both teachers and parents need support and recognition. You can create a supportive climate by recognizing the talents of your child's present and past teachers. Have you told your child's teacher what you appreciate about his or her work? Why not write a note now to your child's current teacher or one who helped your child in the past? It's difficult to predict the knowledge and skills our children will need during their lifetimes, but examples of cooperation and concerned involvement will certainly make lasting, positive impressions.

Make it clear to your child's teacher early in the year that you want to be an active participant in the child's education and that you're interested in being helpful. This is the cornerstone for cooperative communication.

Parents should …

  • have reasonable expectations
  • educate teachers about arthritis and some simple, effective accommodations
  • communicate about your child’s level of disability and her feelings about the disease and the necessary accommodations
  • respectfully advocate on your child’s behalf – know your child’s rights

Teachers should …

  • remain flexible and open to adjusting teaching strategies
  • make modifications to the classroom environment when necessary
  • assess how the student is physically handling the classroom and communicate with parents
  • be sensitive that the child might not publicly want special attention

Advice for Teachers From Parents

  • Help parents to feel comfortable at the meeting. School can stir up unhappy memories for some adults.
  • Be flexible about the meeting time and tell how long it will last. We all have busy schedules.
  • Know the child's strengths and weaknesses. Understand that parents have deep feelings about their child, even though there are many other students in the class.
  • Be well prepared and give specific examples of the child's progress.
  • Listen and ask questions.
  • Avoid educational buzzwords that parents don't understand.
  • Suggest practical ways to work with the child at home.
  • Explain tests and standardized scores.
  • Let parents know about any special services the school offers.
  • Realize that conferences with team specialists can overwhelm parents. Knowing in advance what the meeting is about and allowing us to bring someone else along will help.
  • Establish ways to keep both parents in a divorced family informed.
  • Respect the confidentiality of any sensitive information parents may share.
  • Leave parents with a feeling that the child can succeed.


 

Advice for Parents From Teachers

  • Try not to be late and stay within the time scheduled.
  • Introduce yourself. Some adults may be stepparents, noncustodial parents or guardians with different last names.
  • Have specific questions or concerns to discuss. Let teachers know if you disagree or are unfamiliar with something teachers say or do. Give teachers a chance to explain.
  • Realize that the child's experiences at school may be different from what parents experienced when they were students.
  • Avoid blaming teachers if the child has a learning, social or emotional problem. Instead, ask teachers for strategies to motivate or help the child.
  • Tell teachers about past successes. If other teachers have handled your child more easily or with better results, share the information with the teacher.
  • Let teachers know when they’re doing a good job and that you appreciate what they are doing.
  • Listen and ask questions such as: "Does my child pay attention? Participate in discussions? Present any problems?"
  • Understand that teachers may not be able to solve every problem. Bring a friendly, open attitude to the conference. Teachers and parents are working toward the same goal: the child's success.
  • Tell the teacher if you have problems at home that may be related to school.
  • Know how much the teacher values the parent's participation in the conference, especially if the child is having difficulty.
  • When dealing with teenage students, stay involved with your child’s progress in school, even though at this age children tend to push parents away.