If your child has an attachment disorder or struggles with other mental health, behavioral or emotional issues, their success at school relies heavily on how well parents and teachers work together. As the parent, you know your child best and can serve as their most effective advocate.
By establishing positive relationships with the school and your child’s teachers, you can get them the support they need while not alienating over-burdened educators.
Start on the Right Foot
- Be assertive. Make sure the school understands your child’s academic, social and emotional challenges and takes appropriate action. Do so without being aggressive, angry, and alienating school personnel.
- Provide information. Give the teacher enough information about your child’s background so he or she understands the special needs and challenges. Regarding confidentiality, the details of past events are less important than how your child is affected.
- Foster relationships. Build a relationship with your child’s teacher now, rather than waiting for a problem or a crisis.
- Communicate regularly. Talk frequently with your child’s teacher about both positives and negatives. Discuss discipline with the teacher — consistent, firm, caring and consequence-driven approaches work best.
- Promote understanding. Help the teacher understand that your child’s learning difficulties may be associated with a lack of stability and security — such as moves, losses, grief and uncertainties about the future. Their struggles are not necessarily learning disabilities or lack of intelligence. Increase awareness about your child’s school history.
- Accentuate success. Help the teacher encourage your child’s success in areas of competence.
- Provide resources. Share books, websites, educational opportunities and activities, and other resources to help the teacher and others learn about attachment, foster care, adoption and related issues.
- Be respectful. Don’t forget that school personnel probably feel very taxed this fall by all the changes and adjustments they have made. Be respectful of the teacher’s position, many responsibilities, and other children in the class with special needs. Help the teacher see you as a resource who offers to help, not someone who is demanding.
- Know your role. Leave the teaching and learning assignments to the teacher and child (but be willing to jump in when needed). You are an advocate for your child — but not a “police officer” regarding homework and grades.