Assume that most teachers don’t have a lot of time to read and answer emails. (After all, they’re busy teaching all day.) By keeping your message clear and concise, you’ll have the best chance of getting a prompt response—and you’ll be respectful of their time, too.
Here are some strategies we recommend for getting the response you need:
- Use the teacher’s preferred technology. If your child’s teacher has indicated a best way to get in touch, use that. This might be email, text, or a messaging app used by the school or district.
- Keep it brief. There are probably a lot of details you could include in your email, but try to limit yourself to only the most important things. If you need more than a few sentences to explain the problem, it’s a sign that you might need to have a longer conversation off email.
- Be clear about your most important question or request. If your concern involves multiple parts, try to settle on a single question or request to ask in this email. You might even want to make your question in bold, so it really stands out.
- If a quick email exchange isn’t going to get you the information you need, ask for more time. Let your child’s teacher know that you think this requires a longer conversation and ask if there’s a good time to meet in person or over the phone. To make things even easier, offer some possible times that work for you (preferably a few that they can choose from).
- If you don’t get a response, try again. Teachers are humans, and they might miss an email. Don’t be afraid to follow up after a reasonable amount of time (give them about a week, but less is okay if it’s urgent!). If you still don’t hear back after a couple of emails, try a different approach: catch them at drop-off or pickup, or try an alternative communication platform. (For example, if you’ve been using email, try the school messaging app instead, or vice versa.) If your child is young, you can even send a note in their backpack and ask the teacher to call or email you.
Here’s some sample language that might be helpful as you write your own email.
You’ll see that both examples include a short explanation of the problem, followed by a single clear question or request.
Dear [Child’s teacher],
I hope you’re having a good week. My child [Child name] is in your class, and I’m hoping to get your help with an issue I’m concerned about.
[Child] is extremely resistant to going to school every day. Every morning, she cries, yells, kicks, and refuses to get in the car. It’s very stressful and out of character for her. We are concerned that there may be something going on at school that is causing her to be so anxious or upset.
Is there a good time for us to talk over the phone? I am available on Tuesday or Thursday afternoon between 3-4pm, or Friday morning between 9-10. If those times aren’t good for you, please let me know what might work.
Dear [Child’s teacher],
[Child] is having a hard time with his math homework every night. He usually spends over an hour on math, and expresses a lot of frustration. I have to sit with him the whole time and he doesn’t like the way I’m explaining things to him.
Can you recommend some resources that I can use to help support [child’s] math learning at home?
Don’t miss a beat.
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