Lisa Archer, Educational & Developmental Psychologist, Strong Minds Psychology
As promised, I told you all that I would share an example of an intro letter that you or your child can share with their teachers at the beginning of the school year.
Whether they are changing one teacher, or many teachers, it doesn’t matter, and it allows the chance to introduce likes, dislikes, triggers, and helpful tools and strategies. This letter or a dot point version can also be shared with specialist/non-core teachers, as well as ready for CRTs who can pop up at any time!
This saves time, reduces stress, and means that each new teacher does not have to reinvent the wheel!
Keep in mind this is just an example, and you can tweak it so that it feels “just right” for you! Be sure to change the wording if you are writing this letter on behalf of your young person to include their name.
Dear Mr/Mrs Teacher / To all of my teachers,
I am looking forward to/feeling worried about starting GRADE this year. My favourite subjects at school are XYZ, and my least favourite or more difficult subjects are ABC.
I thought it was important to tell you some things about me. I have (include any possible diagnosis or diagnoses here). For me, this means that (note any difficulties, common ways this impacts on academic/behaviour/social). Also include any strengths that present (e.g. attention to detail, passion for preferred subjects). I work together with include any members of your team/tribe to help me with the tricky stuff that comes up. Here are some more things about me.
Things that I really like to do are: (include own examples)
- Bouncing on the trampoline
- Being by myself
Sometimes I can get angry/anxious/frustrated/upset but I try to do something about it. Some things to help me calm down are: (include own examples)
- Taking deep breaths
- Running around the oval
- Talking to the teacher
- Chewing (crunchy stuff, gum)
- Carrying heavy things to the office
- Getting some water
- Reading a book
Some of the things that can make me feel angry/anxious/frustrated/upset/jumpy are: (include own examples)
- Noisy classrooms
- If I think the work is too hard
- People asking me how I feel
- When people do annoying things
- When the teacher doesn’t explain the work properly
- Not normal days at school (sports day, incursions, special assembly)
It can be helpful if teachers make small changes in the classroom for me. Some things that might help are: (include own examples)
- Using dot points on a page instead of lots of information in a row
- Explaining the reason why we are learning something or doing a task
- Breaking down tasks or homework and showing me what it looks like
- Giving me a notes page so I don’t have to write everything down AND listen
Include any ideas that have been helpful at home over the holidays, or strategies that you will be doing in the lead up to school (e.g. colour code books, practice on the playground, take photos of the school).
Team/Tribe have written some reports for me that might have helpful stuff in them for you to understand how I learn and think. I am looking forward to having/hoping to have a great year in class with you.
Sign off – parents/carers may put “Kind regards” or “Sincerely”, and young people may prefer to just put their name, or “From”.
These letters are a clear and fantastic way for parents/carers to communicate and advocate for their child/ren whilst presenting as collaborative and sharing of what works at home. The shift to self-advocacy for young people and teens in upper primary and secondary school will help them as they become more independent and want to be heard!
Check out our other tips on the return to school in 2019- for primary school/kinder students, high school students, and for parents.
If you need additional support enhancing your mental health, or supporting the mental health of a loved one, call the team at Strong Minds Psychology on 03 5967 1438, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or complete the form below.
About the Author:
Lisa is an Educational & Developmental Psychologist, and the founder of Strong Minds Psychology. Lisa has a decade of experience working in & with school staff to support the educational, social, & emotional needs of children throughout their school career, and beyond. Lisa thrives on working with people in a team approach, creating positive support networks for children and adults. She provides assessments, counselling and therapy – helping with stress, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, grief & loss, social skills, and anger management.