7 Questions I Would Like to Ask My Child's New Teacher

The new school year brings apprehension for many students and their parents. Some parents in the regular education system take intel on their child’s new teacher by peppering seasoned parents with questions, so they can be prepared and gauge how much success or trouble their child will have.

How much homework does she give?
Is his classroom pretty strict or is it laid back?
Do children enjoy being in her classroom?
Does the teacher give assignments that are too hard?

The new teacher is important for any parent, even when the child has a disability. Parents in the special education system ask similar questions trying to get a sense of what their child will face. A caring and devoted teacher is the hope, but sometimes, the person who teaches our child is completely out of our control. When there’s no choice, information is key.

In a few weeks, my daughter with several developmental and medical challenges will not be walking into her old familiar classroom full of friends. Her little world is about to change.

My child is getting ready to start a new program at a different school with a new teacher. Any parent in this situation would feel apprehensive. I’m no different. I hope everything will be just fine after school gets started, but the unknown is always scary.

Unfortunately, I don’t know too many parents at the new school to contact and gather my normal intel. So, I feel like I’m heading into this school year with little information to go on.

If I had 5 minutes to ask my child’s new teacher anything — without any fear of seeming odd to a complete stranger — these are the things I would like to ask:

1. How many children will be in this class?

2. Are there any students in the class who may harm my child? If so, what’s the plan to keep her and the others safe?

3. My child misses many school days due to illnesses, specialty appointments and hospital admissions. What’s your policy about making up work she misses?

4. How often will you communicate with me about my child’s school days/activities because she cannot provide any of that information to me herself?

5. Sometimes my child cannot go outside and play because the air may be too warm or cold for her lungs, how will this medical need be accommodated?

6. My child uses signs, gestures, a communication device and some verbal speech. How do you feel about a total communication approach? How comfortable are you with sign language or devices?

7. My child is very routine and schedule oriented. If her transition to this new school is rough, what are some ways that you will support her?

You might be surprised by things I would not ask the teacher.

I really don’t care how long they’ve been doing their job. I’ve seen great new teachers and wonderful experienced ones. The opposite can be true as well!

I wouldn’t ask how much experience they have with teaching kids with Down syndrome. My child is pretty unique, so it wouldn’t really matter to me if Down syndrome was a new condition for them, though I doubt it is.

I really don’t care what they do in their classroom for academics. I’m just not in that place in child’s life anymore. Basic math and reading skills are important, and I’m sure they’ll be addressed, but most of our daily life centers around her communication and medical needs.

For the record, I’ve never grilled a new teacher. Ideally, though, I would hope the teacher would want information from me, too.

I hope she wants to understand what motivates my child and what makes her upset. I hope the teacher wants to know some of our long history of various developmental therapies, medical issues and several hospital admissions because they have all impacted her education.

I’m sure the new teacher will pick up on many of my daughter’s challenges and abilities when school starts, but I hope she sees me as a valuable source of information. I know that is how I will see her, whether or not I get that interview.

Getty image by DenKuvaiev

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