As a parent, you are your child’s advocate. For your child to succeed in the classroom, it is vital that you communicate his or her needs to the adults at school. It is equally important for you to listen to what the teachers and other school officials have to say.

You can make communication with your child’s school constructive and productive. Try to keep in mind that your mutual purpose is finding out how to best help your child succeed in school. Whether you talk over the phone, email, or meet in person, make an effort to be calm, specific, and above all positive—a good attitude can go a long way in communication with school.

Plan ahead. You can arrange to speak with school officials or teachers before the school year even begins. If the year has started, plan to speak with a teacher or counselor on at least a monthly basis.

Make meetings happen. Agree on a time that works for both you and your child’s teacher and stick to it. Avoid cancelling. If it is convenient, meet in your child’s classroom so you can get a sense of your child’s physical learning environment.

Create goals together. Discuss your hopes for your child’s school success. Together, write down specific and realistic goals and talk about how they can be reached.

Listen carefully. Like you, your child’s teacher wants to see your child succeed at school. Listen to what he or she has to say—even if it is sometimes hard to hear. Avoid interrupting. Understanding your child’s challenges in school is the key to finding solutions that work.

Share information. You know your child’s history, and your child’s teacher sees him or her every day: together you have a lot of information that can lead to better understanding of your child’s hardships. Share your observations freely, and encourage your child’s teachers to do the same.

Ask the hard questions and give a complete picture. Communication can only work effectively if it is honest. Be sure to list any medications your child takes and explain any other treatments. Share with your child’s teacher what tactics work well—and which don’t—for your child at home. Ask if your child is having any problems in school, including on the playground. Find out if your child can get any special services to help with learning.