If your child attends school, you may need to communicate with the school about your child’s education and wellbeing. Learn more about meeting and communicating with school staff.
As a parent, you should feel empowered to communicate with your child's school. Here are some tips for successfully speaking and meeting with teachers and administrators at the school.
Send written requests
When you make important requests for school services or support like special education, bullying, discipline and other issues, you should communicate in writing. Communicating in writing gives you a record of your request and the school’s response.
When you are communicating in writing:
- Send your request to the correct person. Send your email or letter to the person at the school district who handles your specific issue. Also, be sure to copy other people who should know about the email or letter (like teachers, administrators or school district officials). And always keep a copy of any email or letter you send.
- Be polite and clear. Your letter or email should be polite. You should clearly state what you want from the school. You can use our letter templates to:
- Include detail. Your child may tell you more than they tell school staff. So, the school may not know all the details. Your letter should include any relevant details that the school needs to know.
- Attach relevant documents. Relevant documents may help the school understand the reason for your request. Documents may include reports from doctors, your child’s schoolwork or disciplinary reports, depending on the issue you are discussing.
How to prepare for a meeting with your child’s school
Before a meeting with your child’s school, you should prepare by:
- Identifying your goals for the meeting. Think about what you want to accomplish at the meeting.
- Think about what suggestions you have for the school. The school may not ask for your opinion, but you should prepare to share your suggestions.
- Gathering documents. You should gather any helpful documents for the meeting. Helpful documents may include doctor’s reports, examples of your child’s school work, past disciplinary reports, report cards or statements from witnesses who saw a disciplinary matter. Be sure to bring several copies of the documents if you meet in person. If you speak to the school virtually, send documents before the meeting.
- Writing down your thoughts. Consider writing down your thoughts so you can remember them during the meeting.
If you are meeting about special education or school discipline, you should consider whether there is anyone else who should join the meeting (like a doctor, therapist or aide). If you want to bring another person to the meeting, you should tell the school ahead of time that you are bringing someone else.
Your child may be required to attend the meeting, or you may decide to bring your child to the meeting even if it is optional. If you plan to bring your child to the meeting, you should talk to your child about:
- Your child’s perspective. Before the meeting, be sure to understand your child’s perspective.
- What will happen during the meeting. Before the meeting, explain what to expect during the meeting.
- The importance of being calm and polite. Before the meeting, teach your child the importance of communicating their thoughts and feelings in a calm and courteous way.
How to be an active participant in the meeting
You may feel like an outsider in school meetings because the school staff have more experience with the rules than you do. When you meet with the school, remember that you have a unique perspective. As your child’s parent, you should feel empowered to share your thoughts and ideas.
At any time, you can ask the school team to stop and explain what is happening. Asking questions during the meeting can help you understand what is happening, and show that you care about the meeting.
If your relationship with the school is challenging, you may consider bringing an advocate like a lawyer to the meeting. Having a lawyer in the room may:
- Encourage everyone to be more thoughtful about their decisions.
- Help you ask questions about things you are unaware of.