Sharing some information about your child can help get the school year off to a good start. But what kinds of information should you share? This guide shares four types of information and gives examples to help you get started.
When you're ready, download the template as an editable Word document and add your child's information.
Tip: Children can begin to learn self-advocacy skills by helping to write the back-to-school letter. It's a good idea to ask your child how they see their strengths and needs and what they would like teachers to know about them.
Every child has unique strengths. When teachers know your child's strengths, they can use them to help your child learn.
Understanding what your child likes can help teachers in two ways:
Tip: If you are just beginning with self-advocacy, this is a good place to involve your child. Learning to communicate likes and dislikes can be easier than communicating strengths and needs.
Likes to List
Some categories of likes include:
If your child has an individualized education program (IEP) or 504 plan, learning concerns will already be included there. Still, it's helpful for teachers to understand concerns the way you see them - especially when concerns look different at home and school.
One way to share concerns is to start a sentence with, "my child needs help with ..." -- then be as specific as possible.
Why Not a Diagnosis?
This section suggests sharing concerns using the phrase, "my child needs help with ..."
It may seem simpler to say, "my child has ADHD," or "my child has anxiety," -- but diagnoses can be very different from person to person. For example, one child with anxiety may be terrified of fire alarms while another struggles with separating from caregivers.
When you share specific needs, teachers can be more proactive with problem-solving in the classroom.
Finally, it's a good idea to share solutions that have worked in the past. This section is different from the concerns you just shared. It lists different ways you or your child's other teachers have tried to meet needs.
Keep in mind that the solutions that worked at home or in other classrooms may not work in your child's new classroom. It's better to think of this section as a starting point in a conversation with your child's new teacher.
Delivering Your Letter
It's a good idea to make multiple copies of your letter and ask your child's teacher to share the copies with specials teachers and paraprofessionals.
CFK families have also recommended asking your child's teacher to keep a copy of the letter in the folder they share with substitute teachers.