5 Questions to Ask Your Student's New Teacher

A new school year often involves changes for your student—a different classroom and teacher, for example, as well as unfamiliar peers. Understanding his or her new teacher’s practices is the first step in supporting your child’s back-to-school transition. If your child is attending a new school here are some ways to help your child transition. Here are 5 questions to ask your student’s new teacher this fall: 

1. How much homework do you assign?

Although the amount of homework will naturally vary throughout the year, asking your student’s new teacher about the typical content and length of homework will help your family with after-school time management. For example, will your child’s math assignment frequently include problems from a textbook or worksheet? Will language arts assignments involve writing answers to comprehension questions or simply reading a text? Certain teachers may even provide insight about which subjects to prioritize, or how long a student, on average, may spend on an assignment. Such information can help you create the routine with which your child can best flourish. 

2. Are there ongoing projects or regular due dates?

In addition to daily homework, many teachers schedule recurring projects, such as book reports, reading logs, and spelling tests. These regular due dates form the rhythm of your student’s week; noting them in advance can be extremely beneficial when planning for an important exam, a sporting event, etc. Remember that teachers may occasionally shift due dates in response to holidays or the pacing of related lessons, so ask your child to watch for updates. If your child will be working with other students, here are some tips to help your child work well in groups.

3. What are your classroom policies?

Even within the same school, classroom policies can differ. For instance, understanding a teacher’s late homework policy is essential should your student forget to complete or turn in an assignment. Certain teachers may deduct points, while others may not accept the assignment at all. On the other hand, your child’s teacher may provide opportunities for extra credit or retaking a test. Your student can best succeed when he or she knows the ins and outs of such classroom policies.

4. What is the best way for a parent or student to reach you? How will you communicate important information?

When you or your child have a question to ask the teacher, knowing his or her preferred mode of communication can help you obtain your answers efficiently. Whether you have a question about an assignment or an upcoming field trip, ask your student’s new teacher how he or she can best be reached—by email, an online portal, telephone, etc. Teachers are generally open to meeting with parents on a one-on-one basis for more serious matters, so inquire about how appointments can be scheduled. Conversely, teachers may distribute updates or announcements through letters, emails, or assignment notebooks; ensure you and your child know where to look for those. 

5. How can I best support my student outside of school?

As your child grows older, he or she will become more independent both academically and socially. Ask your student’s new teacher if they have any suggestions for supporting your child while fostering independent learning. Is there a quarter- or year-long project that your student will be working on? Are there collaborative study strategies you can engage in with your child? What real-world activities, including library or museum visits, could extend his or her in-school learning? Should you enlist the help of an English tutor for those book reports? Keep the lines of communication open on this topic, especially as the teacher gets to know your student better throughout the year.

When you first meet your student’s new teacher this fall, familiarize yourself with classroom policies and expectations. This will assist your family in beginning the year on solid footing.