Open Communication Between Families And School

Whether you like it or not, social media appears not to be going anywhere anytime soon. But what sort of impact is it having upon our mental health?

Schools often voice concerns about a student’s behavior and/or poor academic performance. What do we do with that information? Is it a one-time thing or does it happen often? What does the school think should be done? It can be hard to know what to do when there are so many unanswered questions and not enough information or understanding about how to help.

It is important that in addition to school reports, parents be watchful of changes at home such as lower grades, truancy, and an increase in behavioral referrals. In addition, fatigue, aggressiveness and being withdrawn can also indicate that your child or youth may be in distress. Some of these may be age appropriate however they may warrant further evaluation with a professional based on the impact they are having in the home, community and school. For families who are aware of their child or youth’s mental health concerns it is important to understand how symptoms can impact them in the classroom and in social interactions. It is important to be informed in order to advocate and work towards having interventions put in place to support the success of your child or youth.

Parents play a major role to ensure that their children receive what they need and it is through open communication that this can take place. An example of strategies that can assist a student with anxiety may be that at home he or she may be prompted to take 5 minutes to calm down and if effective can be translated into the school with the staff’s agreement and support. Parents are the experts on their child and the best resource for a school to be able to support the student in their ability to do well.

Even so, families who have a child or youth with mental health concerns may at times feel challenged in accessing services or implementing strategies that are supportive in nature. It may be helpful to express concerns and ask questions related to its impact in the classroom setting. Communicating with the school can assist in initiating an evaluative process that works towards identifying what is contributing to academic performance or behavioral concerns. This communication can happen in variety of ways including email, phone contact, accessing the school’s family liaison, in writing or speaking with school staff directly. Being proactive can assist in reducing stress related to being called from school in the middle of the workday. It is important to advocate for your child and understand how to work with the school staff as a team to best support your child or youth in their learning environment and of course at home.

Building a strong relationship with the school is a good first step in being able to assist with problem solving. It can also be beneficial in gaining additional information as to how to also support your child or youth in the home if needed. There is a usually a common goal and once an alliance is built it can be a positive foundation to problem solving behaviors that interfere with learning, if this has not yet taken place.

There are also resources available to parents to ensure their child/youth to ensure have access to accommodations that can help address their social/emotional needs. To learn more about your child’s access to an Individual Education Plan and a 504 plan please visit:

If you have any questions or comments about this article you can contact the author, Roxana Mendez at

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