This is true of any of the technical terms we use about our students. Parents derive meaning to these words by reading magazine articles or by listening to fellow parents. They may not understand the range of meaning or the subsets of skills these terms have. They do not know how they manifest as behaviors in the classroom or why it is difficult to manage those behaviors when ‘she does fine at home when I sit with her.’
- What does that term mean? Give an example. We professionals tend to use very specific words and parents may not know what we are talking about.
- Give parents an understanding of age appropriate ability in that skill area. The problems students face is because their learning behaviors do not match their classmates' behaviors (their same age peers). Diagnosis, strategies, remediation, etc, are geared to bridge this gap. When parents understand this purpose behind your referral, they are much more amenable to seek professional help.
- How does the learning behavior affect the child’s performance in the classroom now? Provide observable examples.
- Will it impact the child's performance in future (high school, workplace)? If so, how?
- How did you arrive at this conclusion? Is there a record? If it is a behavioral concern, do you know what happened before the behavior occured? If it is an academic concern, do you have examples of work to show where the difficulty lies?
- How often does this happen? Does it happen at any particular time of the day—a.m., before/after lunch, towards the end of the day?
- Have other teachers expressed the same concerns or is this difficulty subject specific? For example, the student has trouble in reading i.e. English, but does well in social studies. This tells you that something else is going on. Social studies is all sbout reading and comprehension. So you know the problem does not lie wth the student’s ability to read. Maybe the problem lies with how information is presented in English period, or the type of assignment, etc.